Coping With Pain

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Constant pain is not only stressful for your body, but it’s also psychologically stressful. It can lead to frustration with yourself and loved ones and feelings of hopelessness. While your doctor can treat the physical aspects of chronic pain, our therapists are uniquely trained to help you manage the mental and emotional aspects of this often debilitating condition.

Through various psychological techniques and therapy, the team at Taylor Counseling Group can help build your resilience and teach you the necessary skills to manage chronic pain.

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Holly Patterson, MA, LPC

Waco

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Nicole Kremer, M.A., LPC

San Antonio: Alamo Heights

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Kotia Whitaker LPC in San Antonio

Kotia Whitaker, M.S. LMFT

San Antonio

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coping with pain

What Is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is any persistent pain that lasts longer than six months. Many medical conditions and injuries can result in chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia or spinal damage.

Sadly, many people experience constant pain without knowing the exact cause. Even if there is no clear explanation for your chronic pain, the experience of painful symptoms is a real phenomenon. Brain scans light up in distinct ways when experiencing this debilitating symptom.

Understanding the biological and psychological process of pain can bring a sense of understanding to those who are suffering. Pain is the body’s way of indicating danger and it’s meant to be a brief phenomenon. When your pain system is damaged, pain signals can fire continuously for days, months or years. Pain can even become a newly learned neural pathway in your brain.

Read more about The Chronic Pain Cycle

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The Connection Between Chronic Pain and Mental Health

Persistent pain can cause you to be in a constant state of alertness and is both physically and psychologically stressful. This constant discomfort can cause you to lash out against yourself and those you love. It’s not uncommon for those with chronic pain to experience a host of other mental and emotional difficulties, such as:

  • Sleep problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger and frustration
  • Withdrawal from people or activities you once enjoyed

Your body and mind work together to create a whole picture of health. If you’re not feeling well physically, it’ll naturally affect your mental state. On the contrary, if you’re feeling depressed or anxious, you may experience physical symptoms like muscle tension or fatigue.

Many physical conditions are tied to mental health issues and vice versa. For instance, the following chronic pain conditions often correlate with mood disorders like depression and anxiety:

  • Arthritis
  • Back or neck pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Migraine
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Coping Techniques for Those With Chronic Pain

Pain management is an important part of dealing with chronic pain. You and your physician will work out a treatment approach to address the underlying physical causes.

However, as pain is also a learned behavior with psychological ramifications, it’s also essential to find a trained therapist to help you “unlearn” the emotional, cognitive and behavioral aspects of this condition.

Our clinicians can aid you in managing pain through many different therapeutic techniques:

  • Stress management: For some chronic pain sufferers, unaddressed stress contributes to their debilitating and painful symptoms. Reversely, continued pain also causes stress. By learning relaxation techniques and methods of managing stress, we can help reduce stress in your life and, hopefully, reduce the pain itself.
  • Thought restructuring: Each time you think about your pain, monitor it, regret its existence or feel frustration over it, the part of your brain experiencing pain gets reinforced. After thinking about pain so many times for so many days, weeks or years, it becomes a habit — and habits are hard to break. Through thought restructuring, you may still experience pain, but it can lose much of its power over you. This can help the experienced pain feel less intense.
  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment without judging your feelings or thoughts. Practicing mindfulness can help lower stress, boost your mood and provide a sense of control over your thoughts and emotions. Through an individual counseling session, we can teach you how to practice mindfulness to help minimize the negative mental effects of chronic pain.
  • Grounding techniques: Grounding techniques help manage powerful emotions by returning you to the present when you’re flooded with feelings. Whether you’re experiencing intense emotions due to a physical illness, trauma or another cause, our counselors can teach you ways to stay grounded.
  • Lifestyle changes: Your day-to-day life can play a role in managing pain. As you meet with our team, we’ll advise you on positive lifestyle changes to help manage your pain. We might explore ways you can improve your sleep, exercise more or break unhealthy habits — those improvements can help ease physical and mental health symptoms.
  • Depression and anxiety treatment: Treating disorders like depression and anxiety can help give you the mental strength to heal physically. Treatment can also enable you to overcome related symptoms, like sleep difficulties or fatigue.
  • Coping skill building: Chronic pain can leave you overwhelmed by hard-to-manage emotions, but there’s hope. Our counselors can help you build vital skills for coping with challenging emotions in a healthy, productive way.
  • Social and relationship support: If chronic pain has strained your relationships, we can help with that, too. Through counseling, you’ll learn effective communication skills to help you repair and maintain relationships.

Read about Grounding: Detaching From Emotional Pain & 3 Types of Grounding Techniques

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Mental Health Support for Cancer

A cancer diagnosis changes your life and causes feelings like fear, depression, anxiety and grief. Mental health issues and complicated emotions can make it more challenging to follow through with treatment, get good sleep, exercise or stick to a healthy diet — all factors helpful for increasing your quality of life.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with cancer, mental health counseling can help. Talking to a therapist who has experience with the psychological effects of cancer can help relieve overwhelming feelings and concerns. A counselor can also help you feel more in control of your health and teach you strategies for managing cancer-related depression and anxiety.

Don’t Go Through This Difficult Time Alone

You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone. The highly trained team at Taylor Counseling Group wants to walk beside you and help you navigate the emotional and psychological ramifications of chronic pain or illnesses. Schedule your appointment at one of our Central Texas locations today to learn more.

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