Pain is something we all experience from time to time, but for some people it’s a daily occurrence.

And the toll is not just physical, individuals with chronic pain suffer a variety of mental health effects as well.

According to the CDC, chronic pain is one of the most common reasons adults seek medical care.

In 2016, they estimated that over 20% of adults in the US were living with chronic pain. And, since chronic pain is linked to high medical costs, opioid use, missed work, and decreased quality of life — it can take a huge toll on mental health.

Pain and Mental Health

Long-term or chronic pain can be physically debilitating and significantly alter quality of life. But the mental health effects are just as serious, and often overlooked.

To find out how much impact pain has on mood, we launched a study in 2018 to look at real-life effects in people with chronic pain. In this year-long study, we sent out surveys every 3-months asking about pain, mental health, and how much each person’s pain interfered with activities of daily life.

For the study to be valid, we had to ask individuals with chronic pain and those without the same questions.

As expected, those who identified as having chronic pain had higher pain levels over time than the group of participants without chronic pain.

Individuals with chronic pain also reported higher levels of anxiety and depression.

And, the people who said that their pain interfered with their quality of life, activities, and relationships, also had more depression and anxiety symptoms.

What does that mean?

Well, it tells us that physical pain and the effects of this pain on our lives may have real impact on our mental health as well.

What can we take away from this? Chronic pain is a major challenge for many. And the challenges that people with chronic pain face may have a big impact on their physical and mental health.

By understanding how chronic pain interferes with daily living, we can work to help those living with it improve their mental health and live happier lives.

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