Published on January 19, 2021

Chronic Pain: Is it in Your Head?

picture of multiple pills

When you’re in pain, do you think of your brain? Probably not, but the brain is what controls most of our physical functions and all aspects of our thinking and feeling.

Pain is necessary for our survival because it signals that there is a physical problem that requires attention. When pain starts, your goal is to have the cause of the pain corrected and get back to your normal life. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, and the pain lingers. If the cause of the pain cannot be eliminated, then the pain itself becomes the primary problem. When that happens, you may not be able to continue doing the physical activities you are accustomed to.

When stressed, many people cope by getting busy to distract from the stressor. With chronic pain the very thing you once did to manage stress may now lead to increased pain. The things that once brought much joy-- fishing, playing sports, cooking, playing with your grandchildren--may now bring much pain. You may lose your ability to work, leading to financial hardships. Relationships can become strained. Stress from the pain leads to irritability. These losses may lead to depression. You may feel alone and believe no one truly understands. It is at that point that I often get a referral to see an individual.

The most common way to treat depression and anxiety is with medications. While helpful, medication usually does not eliminate the symptoms. Psychological treatments have proven effective in psychological problems associated with chronic pain, but not all psychological treatments are equal. During the first two sessions, an effective therapist will assess and then explain why your problems exist. Then the therapist should discuss treatments to address what is causing the psychological problems.

I use a psychological model based on brain functioning. We address all the factors that can influence your ability to effectively cope with life changes caused by chronic pain.

To learn more, call North Mississippi Regional Pain Consultants at (662) 377-5199.

If the cause of the pain cannot be eliminated, then the pain itself becomes the primary problem.