The Effects of Chronic Pain
When a patient is suffering from long-term chronic pain, their personality may drastically change as a result. Many patients blame themselves for a decrease in motivation and an increase in anxiety. Recent scientific studies show that the patient is not at fault and these personality changes have an underlying psychological cause.
Long term pain has a profound effect on a person’s quality of life. Aside from the physical suffering that chronic pain causes, there are also psychological and personality effects. Negative attitudes and behaviors can become very pronounced and lead many patients to blame themselves for their changing outlook on life.
It is important to understand that chronic pain’s effects on a patient’s personality are becoming more well-known, that there is an underlying cause for them, and that treatment methods are available.
How Chronic Pain Changes Personality
Chronic pain has a notable and drastic effect on the personality of those who suffer from it. One of the most overt of these changes is in terms of motivation. Those with a chronic condition still have the desire to get things done, but quickly lose their will when faced with a challenging or unexpected situation.
Also notable is that chronic pain creates a kind of passiveness in overall behavior. The ability and desire to take risks or move outside one’s comfort zone becomes greatly reduced. Aside from this numbing of ambition and adventurousness, sufferers also become more anxious – worrying more and regularly second guessing themselves. Patients with a long-term pain condition become more easily frustrated, in general, which can lead to a more “on-edge” or angry personality.
The Physiological Aspects
Patients with chronic pain show physiological changes in their brain. They show greater activity in the parts of the brain associated with behavior, cognition, and emotions. Not only do these areas show greater activity, but the prefrontal cortex shows greater neuron growth.
Behavioral changes and neuronal growth showed a direct correlation. The greater the nerve growth, the greater the associated personality changes were noted. According to experts, previous research involving animals supports these results. These physiological changes create a feedback loop where the change in brain chemistry results on a greater focus on pain symptoms which in turn leads to more negative thoughts and behaviors.
Recent studies also point to a possible medicinal treatment. Scientists were able to isolate the changes that occur in the motivation/reward pathways in the brain to the chemical galanin. Experiments with mice showed that with galanin reduction, the effects that pain had on their motivation was greatly diminished.
It is hoped that, in time, this discovery could lead to a treatment method in humans. This new method when paired with existing treatments could help reduce the effects that chronic pain has on personality and behavior as a person heals.
Chronic pain can greatly affect behavior, motivation, and personality. Above all, a patient should understand their issues and know that they are not at fault, as the above shows the physiological and behavioral changes chronic pain brings are expected and scientifically proven.
For patients seeking to manage the changes chronic pain brings to their lives, Multi-Care Medical can help. Management therapy need not include heavy doses of medication. Chiropractic care, physical therapy, and massage are treatment methods that can reduce pain as the body heals itself.
In more severe cases, involved medical treatment or surgery may be used to help solve underlying physical ailments that lead to pain. At Multi-Care Medical – with locations in Pembroke Pines, Fort Myers and Cape Coral, Florida – we know that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to pain management, but that a combination of multiple methods can be used to fit each patient’s situation. Please contact us for a consultation today.
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