The link between pain and anxiety is like a circular road, with sporadic on- and off-ramps, where you drive round and round, struggling to get better. But your journey doesn’t have to be exhausting, painful, and never-ending. With time and care, you can improve the quality of your life.
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
“Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. It might cause you to sweat, feel restless and tense, and have a rapid heartbeat. It can be a normal reaction to stress. For example, you might feel anxious when faced with a difficult problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision.” It’s something we all face, but often goes away naturally. But for others, it can linger for months or years.
TYPES OF PAIN
There are many kinds of pain, all of which can lead to anxiety or make it worse.
- Acute pain is pain that’s short in length, continuing from minutes to about three months or sometimes longer.
- Chronic pain lasts for much longer. It can be continuous or intermittent. Headaches, for example, are regarded as chronic pain when they persist for many months or years.
- Neuropathic or nerve pain, and nociceptive pain (damage to body tissue).
The different kinds of anxiety and more serious anxiety disorders can have various symptoms:
- Anxious ideas or beliefs that are difficult to control. They may result in restlessness and tension and inhibit your daily living. They don’t go away and can worsen over time.
- Physical indicators, such as a rapid or throbbing heartbeat, inexplicable aches and pains, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath.
- Shifts in behavior, like steering clear of everyday activities you used to perform.
HOW TO DEAL WITH ANXIETY
Medicine like ketamine or psychotherapy aren’t the only ways to help you deal with anxiety. You can also try:
- Relaxation training. Systematically relaxing and tensing particular muscle groups can help you willingly relax when anxiety starts running hot.
- Exercising for 30 minutes daily may help alleviate some symptoms of anxiety as they appear or can help inhibit anxiety before it begins.
- Reading self-help books to relieve anxiety symptoms.
- Trying to clear your mind through meditation.
IS THERE A LINK BETWEEN PAIN AND ANXIETY?
Everyone experiences pain in their lives, but if you suffer from depression or anxiety, pain can become nearly intolerable and difficult to treat. With depression, for example, you tend to have more severe and long-lasting pain than someone else. The link between pain and anxiety is strong.
How they overlap with pain is especially pronounced in chronic and occasionally incapacitating pain syndromes like fibromyalgia, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, lower back pain, and nerve pain. Psychiatric disorders are known to heighten pain intensity and boost the risk of disability.
There was a time when the connection between anxiety, pain, and depression was believed to happen mostly from mental rather than biological ones. Chronic pain is disheartening, and likewise, major depression can feel physically uncomfortable. But ongoing research into brain functionality and how the nervous system intermingles with other components of the body, has revealed that pain shares some biological triggers with depression and anxiety.
Common pain disorders related to anxiety disorders
- Arthritis, including more than 100 medical conditions, affects the musculoskeletal system, particularly the joints.
- People who have arthritis, especially when they’re young, are prone to anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.
- Fibromyalgia, a chronic medical ailment resulting in widespread fatigue and muscle pain.
- Migraine denotes severe pain on one or both sides of your head, usually focused on the temples or behind one ear or eye.
- Back pain is more common in people experiencing anxiety and mood disorders than someone without. Illness, accidents, and infections are common triggers of back pain.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
Diagnosing pain and anxiety is often a multi-step approach. You can expect to undergo a medical exam, where a doctor will perform tests and look for a cause for your symptoms. If there is no apparent cause, the next step would be a psychiatric assessment with the goal of uncovering thoughts, feelings, and behavior as triggers for your condition. You may also be asked questions about your personal or family history of anxiety or pain conditions.
For either pain or anxiety, your healthcare provider may recommend a different kind of physical or psychotherapy, generic pain relievers, or even medicine like ketamine.
If you suffer from pain and anxiety, you know all-too-well the symptoms seem interconnected and self-perpetuating. But struggling to free yourself of their grip doesn’t have to be a lifelong battle or something you fight alone. Call us today to see if our treatments can help you find relief.