Living with chronic pain:

How to balance mental health needs for social connections with your physical limitations

If you live with chronic pain, you know that the mere act of getting up in the morning and getting out of bed can be excruciatingly difficult. What I have found, in working with chronic pain patients is that often, there is an unhealthy interplay and cascade effect between chronic pain, depression and isolation…

Complicating the issue of taking pain medication in Florida is a recent spat of investigations of “pain-pill mill” doctors and an attempt by the state to better track and regulate pain doctors which has chronic pain patients on edge and struggling with either not being able to see their doctor anymore or having their medication dosage suddenly lowered due to new guidelines meant to protect them and to protect their doctors from liability and accusations of misconduct. Unfortunately, many of my patients have had their medication dosage lowered without having appropriate interventions put in place for handling the transition, which is often quite painful. Unfortunately, the rotten apples do spoil the bunch and pain doctors and their patients have been caught in the war against those doctors who are being accused of over-prescribing of pain meds…

In my practice, one of the saddest results of isolating due to chronic pain that I see is that many of my patients end up so alone that they can’t even consider surgery because there will be no one to care for them after surgery. Furthermore, when folks are in pain and depressed they are obviously not as pleasant to be around and studies have shown that depressed people are rejected more often which then exacerbates their depression further. It is very important that if you are experiencing chronic and severe pain and depression that you consider working with a therapist on ways to not lose your existing social connections and to see if there are ways to develop new ones not only so that you don’t find yourself alone when in need, but also so that you find that your life is worth living- a conclusion that is often reached in the company of others…

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