Tuesday, 23 August 2016

How Chronic Pain Can Lead to Addiction and Depression #essentialsoffrecovery

How Chronic Pain Can Lead to Addiction and Depression

Approximately 116 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain can lead to both depression and addiction, and addiction is difficult to detect in a chronic pain sufferer. Those who are living with chronic pain often share some of the same clinical features as those who are addicted to opioids, which makes it tough to diagnose the addiction. Likewise, depression frequently goes undiagnosed in chronic pain sufferers, because chronic pain usually takes center stage.

Chronic Pain Leading to Addiction

People are worried about addiction and for good reason. Patients and doctors face a serious dilemma when it comes to treating chronic pain. One of the main difficulties of treating chronic pain is that the longer you’re taking a pain medication, the more likely you are to become addicted

Another problem is that if you’re on long-term treatment, you may develop a tolerance to the drug, meaning that your body is used to the substance and requires higher doses in order to achieve the same level of pain relief. Yet another concern in the management of chronic pain is hyperalgesia, which is an increase in pain sensitivity. Many patients have been worried about these consequences and reluctant to take pain medications even when prescribed for legitimate pain.

To help reduce the risk of addiction, discuss your history with your doctor openly and honestly. Your doctor needs to be made aware of any personal or family history of mental illness, substance abuse, or addiction. Don’t take any of these questions personally; they are essential for your treatment. Your doctor will be able to take these facts into consideration when prescribing medications or other treatments.

Hopefully these open lines of communication will help to avoid addiction, but unfortunately, there are no guarantees. It is difficult to detect an addiction, especially when it comes to a person living with chronic pain, as the two conditions share similar signs and symptoms such as:

A high level of stress

Functional losses


Substance use

Mood disturbances

Sleep disturbances

Chronic Pain Leading to Depression

Depression is one of the most frequent psychological issues that chronic pain sufferers face. Chronic pain causes physical changes in your brain which often lead to depression, which in turn may lead to additional pain-related symptoms. Depression is even more likely if your independence is limited due to severe chronic pain impacting your daily functioning.

Depression often goes undiagnosed in chronic pain patients, and as a result often goes untreated. Chronic pain is such a priority for those who suffer from it that it takes precedence during healthcare appointments. When depressed, patients often find themselves with:

A decrease in physical activity

A lack of energy

A loss of appetite

Sleep disturbances

Finding Relief

One of the things that chronic pain, addiction, and depression have in common is sleep disturbances. Sleep plays an important role in your emotional, mental, and physical health. It is crucial to get enough quality sleep every night, particularly if you suffer from chronic pain or other medical conditions.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, speak with your doctor. If you’re a chronic pain sufferer and believe you may be addicted to your pain medications or that you may be depressed, being open and honest with your physician will help them help you achieve recovery.

Jennifer Woodson enjoys serving the public as a writer for PublicHealthCorps.org. The site is dedicated to putting the public back into public health by serving as a hub of reputable and useful public information on health topics.

Images via Pixabay by geralt

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