Tips on Coping with Chronic Pain and Depression as a Result of Injury
How to deal with long-lasting damage after an accident
After an accident, for most people, the pain goes away. For others, it never leaves. What do you do when pain is a constant companion? When it is with you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year? You need to learn how to live a new life, with a new you. This can bring on feelings like depression, anger and fear. Learn more here.
Sometimes the echoes of an accident can stay with you forever. The normal patterns of your day turn into obstacles you never thought possible:
Stairs become mountains. Showers become optional. Leaving the house becomes a trek across the world.
How does one deal with the never-ending chronic pain that can accompany an injury? Every day there are people who must cope with serious chronic pain and depression. In some cases, these issues arise from an injury they’ve suffered, though sometimes pain arises simply because of the aging process. According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, approximately 100 million Americans – that’s one in three people – suffer from chronic pain.
The most common debilitating work injury reported each year is lower back pain. This can affect a person’s quality of life and result in depression, mood swings, limited physical performance, and other mental and physical complications.
Here are some suggestions and tips for copying with a work injury to the best of your ability.
- Find a doctor you trust: These days, with the opioid epidemic raging across the country and pain management doctors dropping patients like flies, it takes a lot to find a doctor in whom you can confide. The relationship is a two-way street, and you should be able to talk with him or her about how you are truly feeling. Don’t be afraid to describe your symptoms to their fullest extent, no matter what the political or medical climate is like. You need to be treated, and you deserve to be treated. Never forget that.
- Find a psychiatrist or social worker: Situational depression is a common side effect of chronic pain. Many pain management doctors will prescribe an antidepressant as an off-label treatment for chronic pain. Don’t be afraid of this. Many people are scared to try antidepressants because they are difficult to titrate off of later on. The treatment itself can be very successful. Don’t let the weaning process scare you away from the treatment.
Meanwhile, engage in the talk therapy. Your therapist might try something like the Emotional Freedom Technique (also called “tapping”) or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Getting dark thoughts out of your head and into the light can be quite beneficial.
- Take your medications: This is a bad time in terms of the opioid epidemic. Don’t abuse your medications, or you might lose your privileges – or even overdose.
- Minimize your stressors as much as possible: Stress is a fact of life, sure. However, for chronic pain patients, stress exacerbates pain to the nth degree. It makes pain increase and can cause “flare days” where before there were none. If you’re finding that your job or home life is causing stress, try to find ways to limit those stressors.
- Find an exercise plan that works: Talk with your doctor to come up with a plan that won’t aggravate your injury. Exercise releases endorphins and is vital to your health. It also ensures that your muscles won’t atrophy and decondition. Even a 15-minute walk a few times a week can keep you from becoming a total sloth.
- Try massage: Hands-on touch can work wonders. Not only are you taking care of yourself, but you’re also doing some serious pampering.
- Be open and honest: You are doing yourself no favors if you lie to your doctor about how you are feeling. Don’t be a martyr. Never hold back. Let him or her know exactly how you’re feeling so that the proper medication and treatment can be prescribed.
- Meditate: Sounds earthy-crunchy? Sure it does. Can’t meditate for more than a few seconds at a time? That’s okay. It’s like flexing a muscle. As long as you can focus for a little bit at a time, you’re achieving something. Meditation has been found to help chronic pain patients, because it helps the muscles to relax.
- Revamp your diet: What have you been eating? If your diet is high in carbohydrates, alcohol, sugar and caffeine, you might want to think about changing what you consume. Eat the rainbow, reduce dairy and grains, and avoid red meat.
- Stop smoking: Cigarettes have been found to worsen chronic pain. Cannabis, however, has been found to help chronic pain... colloquially speaking, since there haven’t been enough scientific studies yet.
- Try a support group: Finding like-minded people who are going through the same thing as you can be extremely helpful, because as much as your family and friends love you, they just don’t understand what you’re experiencing. Find a group and make some new friends!
Enjuris tip: A support group can be more helpful than most types of therapy when you’re suffering from chronic pain.
See our list of resources for emotional recovery after an accident.
If you have suffered serious chronic pain or depression because of a work injury, try implementing some of these suggestions to help relieve some of your issues. For more information regarding work injuries, visit our Workplace Injury Guide or Physical & Emotional Injuries.
If you need to consult with a lawyer about how to recover financially from a work-related injury or accident, use our unique legal directory to find the right personal injury attorney for you.
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- What would you want others to know? Tell us what happened in your accident, and how life has changed for you.