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What You Need to Know About Chronic Pain and Mental Health

What You Need to Know About Chronic Pain and Mental Health

The incidence of chronic pain among adults in the United States is alarming — slightly more than 20% struggle with ongoing pain and more than 7% report high-impact pain, which prevents them from engaging in many activities. While the pain is enough to cast a long, dark shadow, the risk for mental health issues is also greatly increased, which makes addressing both sides of the equation important.

Dr. Diana Ghelber and the skilled mental health team understands the relationship between chronic pain and mental health problems, which is why we focus on both issues here at the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry.

To help you better understand the potential connection, we present the following.

More than an indirect connection

If you’ve been struggling with chronic pain for months or years, it makes perfect sense that the ongoing and daily battle to find relief can cause a great deal of stress and wear you down. As a result, you may be more likely to be more vulnerable to developing conditions like anxiety and/or depression.

The numbers certainly bear this connection out. For example, studies show that people with chronic pain are four times more likely to develop depression or anxiety than those who are living without pain.

Thanks to a better understanding of the brain, we’re now finding that this link is more direct than we previously thought. For example, one study concluded that chronic pain and depression, “May involve the same brain structures, neurotransmitters, and signaling pathways.”

This shared anatomy means that chronic pain and mental health disorders like depression stem from the same areas in your brain.

When it comes to chronic pain and anxiety, the link is even more clear. When you’re in pain, your body is in a state of stress, which can alter your biochemical physiology. When you’re stuck in this state, the stress can turn into a full-blown anxiety disorder.

Treating both the mental and physical sides of the equation

At our practice, we’ve had great success addressing both chronic pain and mental health through ketamine infusion therapy. Ketamine has been used for decades as a painkiller, but now it's fast gaining acceptance as a way to disrupt unhealthy neural pathways that lead to mental health issues. In fact, the FDA has approved the use of a form of ketamine to address treatment-resistant depression.

With our ketamine infusion therapy, we deliver the ketamine in a controlled environment and the drug quickly goes to work to relieve your pain. At the same time, the therapy can disrupt unhealthy neural pathways in your brain to improve your mental health. 

If you’d like to learn more about ketamine infusion therapy and its role in treating both chronic pain and certain mental health issues, please contact one of our offices in Granbury or Fort Worth, Texas, to set up a consultation.

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