- Anxiety, depression, and pain activate similar areas of the brain.
- Certain psychiatric drugs used to relieve pain can also alter an individual’s mental state.
- Chronic pain can lead to depression.
- Clinical depression can cause physical symptoms, including back pain.
Cognitive-behavioral therapyCognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT trains an individual to modify specific thoughts and behaviors. Experts consider this approach a gold standard of psychological interventions for pain. It helps:
- Reduce pain
- Improves function
- Improves quality of life
- Pain coping strategies
- Relaxation skills
- Setting goals
- Shifting perspectives on pain
Mindfulness meditationMeditation is not all about sitting with crossed legs, hands resting on the knees, although this is a recommended pose for meditative purposes. A modern approach can be done anywhere, in any position that’s comfortable and will help soothe back pain. By oneself or with help from a therapist mental strategies can include
- Incorporating breathing techniques
- Guided imagery
- Intense focus on thoughts and feelings
Mindfulness stress reductionMindfulness stress reduction is a program that teaches individuals meditation techniques, that include basic stretches and postures. It teaches how to separate the physical and psychological aspects of pain. Medical centers across offer this treatment option for a range of disorders, including chronic back pain. It helps reduce pain intensity and improves function in individuals with arthritis as well as back and neck pain from various causes. It has also been found to be effective for fibromyalgia, which can cause intense widespread pain. A study found that mindfulness stress reduction improved:
- Pain episodes
- Sleep problems
- Fatigue in participants with fibromyalgia
- More than half reported significant improvement
Acceptance and commitment therapyAcceptance and commitment therapy or ACT teaches acceptance and mindfulness strategies with commitment and behavior mental strategies, to change the way pain is experienced. Numerous studies along with the American Psychological Association validate this approach as an established treatment for chronic pain.
Changing expectationsIn one study several chiropractic patients who expected their back pain to improve were 58% more likely to improve than those who did not expect favorable outcomes. This mental strategy of manifesting a positive outcome through the power of positive thinking and beliefs about pain influence an individual’s actions. For example, when thinking that physical activity will cause back pain, individuals are less likely to be active. This is known as fear avoidance. For most individuals with back and neck pain, gentle physical activity is essential because avoiding it will worsen the pain. Having the right mental strategy can go a long way in battling chronic pain, at Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic we can help individuals experiencing/dealing with chronic pain.
Depression and physical healthDepression is debilitating and, in severe cases, a life-threatening disease that affects over 16 million people nationwide. Depression causes are not always clear and can be brought on by:
- Biological factors – genetics
- Individual brain chemistry
- Certain medications
- Unhealthy diet/nutrition
- Poor diet
- Lack of physical activity
- Alcohol consumption