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The Psychological Effects That Can Come from Pain

Physical pain can also have a psychological impact. Find out more about the mental aspects of pain, and how to work through the symptoms with pain management treatment.


One of the first areas of life that pain interferes with is sleep. Both pain and the medications prescribed to treat pain can interfere with sleep. For some folks, that means difficulty falling asleep. For others, that means difficulty staying asleep. And for many, it’s both. The cumulative effect is the same: not getting nearly enough sleep. This makes you more susceptible to emotional and mood disorders, and makes it more difficult to engage in activities like working and socializing.


Changes in Mood

Your mood and emotions are not your own when you’re in pain. Lack of sleep plays a big role in making you more susceptible to mood disorders, but so does the pain itself. It’s emotionally trying to be in pain. Anxiety begins to mount, with a seemingly endless number of sources. There’s anxiety about the main and whether it will go away. Anxiety over whether you could be doing a better job handling the pain. Anxiety over all of the things you can’t do because you’re in pain.


Of course, it’s natural to feel down as you work your way through this period. But it’s very common to go past feeling down and slip into clinical depression—even for folks who have no history of depression. This exacerbates the other difficulties that present themselves when you’re dealing with chronic pain: loss of interest in activities and friends, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating.


Focus and Memory

Pain and lack of sleep interfere with your ability to commit things to memory. Folks suffering from pain often find themselves becoming forgetful. It’s also difficult to concentrate for a whole host of reasons: from the forgetfulness, from lack of sleep, from the pain.


While this could fit under the umbrella of “Changes in Mood,” we thought it deserved its own category. As pain makes it more difficult to engage with everyday life, feelings of guilt often crop up. It’s easy to feel as though you’re failing in your responsibilities as a parent, as a partner, as an employee. Though you have no control over your pain, it can feel like you do, and like you should be managing it better.



When people read about opioid addiction, it’s common to think that the addiction began solely from an effort to manage the physical aspects of pain. But these psychological effects play just as large a role. People may turn to opioids and other drugs looking for some escape. Much like depression, pain makes us more susceptible to addiction, even if there’s no personal or family history.

Pain Management at Princeton Health Care Center


These psychological effects of pain are the reason pain management is so critical. These effects may feel inescapable. But an experienced pain management specialist can help see you through to the other side. If you or someone you know is suffering with pain, contact Princeton Health Care Center in Princeton, WV at 304-487-3458. It’s also a good idea to reach out ahead of a procedure that’s likely to require pain management after the fact.

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