What is Chronic Pain?
Although pain is a very natural and important function of the human body, chronic pain is not. Pain that persists for more than six months is considered chronic and should be investigated. While chronic pain and illness bring a number of emotional implications, it is not a helpless condition. With proper management and understanding, people with chronic pain and illness can still live healthy and vibrant lives.
Living with Chronic Pain
More than 100 million Americans and millions of Canadians suffer from chronic conditions that interfere with their daily lives. As these conditions persist and become prolonged, our ability to cope begins to deteriorate, causing a variety of distressing and often harmful emotional responses. With a combination of the appropriate medical care and a solid emotional support system however, chronic pain and chronic illness can be successfully managed.
How Do I Manage Chronic Pain or Illness?
For those suffering from a chronic condition, often words are not enough to describe the unrelenting and devastating effects they endure on a daily basis. Unless you have experienced the frustration, helplessness, despair, and anger people often feel, understanding the severity of the problem is not fully possible. Approximately half of all reported chronic conditions are pain related. According to a Stanford Medical Center poll that is 1 in 5 Americans. While these numbers are staggering, the repercussions of these unyielding conditions extend far beyond those actually suffering. A November report in The Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that the cost in the United States of chronic pain and chronic illness resulting in lost performance alone is more than $62 billion a year. When the true cost of treatment and sick days is accounted for, the total reaches close to $100 billion each year.
If you are one of those suffering however, you know that statistics do little to ease your pain. Just as the financial repercussion of a chronic condition reach beyond the actual circumstances, so do the emotional ramifications. Chronic pain is a very personal experience. Often people agonize in silence for years because not only is pain a completely subjective condition, but the way in which we deal with and perceive pain is also very personal. As such, your ability to adapt to the constant stress that pain ultimately causes will depend on your present coping skills and willingness to seek emotional support.
If you suffer from chronic pain or chronic illness that persists for more than six months, seek medical advice first. You are not alone. More than 100 million Americans have been diagnosed with this often-debilitating condition. More importantly, don’t ignore the emotional components. Chronic conditions are multi-layered and the most successful treatment for any full and healthy recovery involves both physical and emotional support and healing.
Counselling Treatment for Chronic Pain and/or Chronic Illness
Meeting with a counselor to discuss Body Dysmorphic Disorder gives you a place to talk freely about your concentrated focus on your appearance. The shame and embarrassment may strive to keep you silent, however it is important, even vital, you talk about it regularly while healing.
Addressing the implications of a chronic condition with a Theravive Counselor begins with an understanding of both the physical and emotional consequences and limitations of the pain or illness. We understand that often, individuals are unable to continue with recreational, vocational, and social activities that were a regular part of daily enjoyment. In counseling, we identify these losses which often result in feelings of anger, resentment, and frustration that further complicates and adds to the physical experience of pain and illness. Your counsellor, using a values-based approach, will work through the emotional aspects of living with a chronic condition, taking into account that it indeed does have a profound impact on the experience and challenges you face living with the pain or illness.
The limitations resulting from changes in physical ability from these conditions challenge how individuals see themselves. This often causes a crisis in identity as what you were previous known as, a hard worker, an avid outdoors person, or someone who could always be depended on is no longer possible due to your pain or illness. Counselling works to help you redefine who you are and to develop a new sense of self worth and identity that includes the daily challenges of living with a chronic condition.
Part of the chronic pain counseling process involves going through the grieving process for the aspects of life that have been altered as a result of the chronic condition. While there is always hope for things to improve, we work towards a realistic expectation and acceptance of one’s ability to resolve the conflict between what you want to do and what your body is able to do. This is the mind-body connection and the effects are integrated into your recovery plan by your chronic pain counselor to help see how this affects your own understanding of self and how you identify with your unique pain or illness.
If you need a therapist to help you, we have a large selection of online therapists who are professional and licensed counselors, able to help you right where you are over the phone, via email, or webcam/messenger. If you prefer face to face counseling, please use our therapist directory and find a city close to you with a therapist who can meet your needs.
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