When I think back, I can’t remember the last time I had a ‘normal,’ pain-free day. In almost a decade, I’ve suffered daily – and I’m one of the lucky ones, receiving my diagnosis early.
If you’ve had to stave off pain-induced depression and anxiety daily, you know what I’m talking about. As such, it’s important to review the psychological impact of chronic pain.
The impact of Chronic Pain
Studies by the International Association for the Study of Pain found chronic pain can cause the following:
- difficulty with attention
- difficulty completing tasks
- imparement of mental flexibility
- speed of response in cognitive task
Everyone copes with their pain in their own way, so this is obviously not a complete list. But it is eye-opening.
Major symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis include things like iritis, tendonitis, and anemia. These seem bad enough. Medications prescribed to help fight your inflammation come with their own lists of side-effects. Hair loss, trouble sleeping and danger of infection are just a few examples. These can compound the mental strain of your battle against ankylosing spondylitis.
As if that’s not enough, stress acts as a factor in arthritis flare ups. Because of this, if you’re not careful, the stress of chronic pain can become cyclical in nature.
So what are you supposed to do about all this?
If you’re suffering from depression as a result of your ankylosing spondylitis pain, please reach out for help. Schedule an appointment with a therapist, join up with support groups and start talking to your friends and family. Talk to your doctor about potential therapies, start exercising to help boost your endorphins, start trying to sleep with a regular schedule.
This is a battle you can win.
Doctors studying the psychology of chronic pain found social support to play a large factor in quality of life for sufferers. The psychological trauma of chronic pain causes a lot of sufferers to cut off social interaction. This makes the shrinking your social circles and support groups a dangerous reality.
Don’t let ankylosing spondylitis isolate you
The importance of social support is no joke. Studies have found that simply viewing a photo of a romantic partner lowers the pain levels subjects felt. This, even though the pain stimulus remained unchanged with or without the photo.
Further studies prove the larger and more high quality the social support you receive, the better. It’s time to start building up that social support circle that may have shrunk in the time since you began your suffering. Too many people receive no diagnosis precisely because of a lack of awareness of this disease.
Personally, I spend a lot of time at both the KickAS.org and Spondylitis.org forums. I’ve found just reading about the struggles of others and how they’re carrying on can inspire me, and it most likely can for you, too.
ChronicPain on Reddit
Thritis on Reddit
Facebook – Ankylosing Spondylitis group
Facebook – Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis group
Spondylitis Association of America – Find Your Local Group