Why A Relationship Ends When One Has A Chronic Illness

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Have you ever heard of endless love? 

We do not mean the song that Lionel Richie and Diana Ross sang together way back in 1981. It’s the never-ending kind of affection that you can give to a person irrespective of their race, gender, or financial status. If you think about it, it’s almost like casting a binding magic spell on the people involved since you can’t seem to let go of each other no matter how many obstacles you come across. 

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Categories: Understanding Pain

Five Things You Should Know About Yoga

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Ever felt that sudden rush of peace and energy right after a good workout session? Or even after a lap or two in your subdivision in a chill quiet morning, insight the sun rising to its majesty, the cities still snoring and the birds chirping harmoniously in the near.

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Categories: Pain Management

When You Are Emotionally In Pain, Can It Become Physical Too?

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The human mind does not only regulate emotions. It also processes pain, whether it’s a pain from a broken arm or gout. Pain and emotion share space in the brain and the appropriate emotions can positively affect physical pain.

Ashley Boynes-Shuck, a blogger and health promoter from Pittsburgh, suffered from idiopathic arthritis and severe constant pain as early as ten years of age. According to her, having a positive, optimistic, and hopeful outlook in life as well as concentrating on helping other people is a marvelous way of coping with the pain.

Pain And Emotion Share The Same Space Inside The Human Mind

Inflammation in certain parts of the body, such as in rheumatoid arthritis can continue to create pain signals in the brain even though there is no physical injury. Pain from getting hurt physically or from a surgical procedure can still be felt even after the recovery of the body. The short-lived aching due to an injury is replaced by continuing, chronic pain that persists freely.

“Brain” published a study done in 2013 on a group of people for more than 12 months whose minor pain elevated to persistent and chronic physical illnesses. Dr. David Hanscom, an orthopedic spine surgeon at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle, said that the pain felt by the patients increased from minor to extreme and the acute pain center was linked with their emotional center.

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Pain Can Be Adversely Affected By Negative Emotions

The emotions you feel can affect you physically because emotions, negative or positive, share the same real estate as the sensory centers of the brain. Boynes-Shuck related that when she was down emotionally about her illnesses, she was not in the mood to socialize. She didn’t even want to go out at all. Exercise and social interaction can alleviate pain, but people with chronic pain usually don’t do it. And according to Darnall, negative emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, or depression can increase the pain being processed by your brain.

The pain felt by those suffering from it can also lead to adverse reactions. Managing pain daily can result in feelings of frustration, disgust, and stress. There are more or less 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain, and they tend to develop depression or an anxiety issue. And take note, depressed patients are at three times at risk of suffering from chronic pain.

Lisa Harris, from Waynesville, Ohio, has had psoriatic arthritis since her mid-thirties. She states that she ’doesn’t want to leave her house to socialize with friends or to visit relatives because of the pain she experiences.

Pain Can Be Positively Affected By Positive Emotions

Darnall states that knowing that emotions affect how pain is experienced is helpful, but only if you obtain the appropriate skills to influence your experience.

There are various ways of dealing with chronic pain. You can have yourself assessed by a pain specialist, doctor, or a pain psychologist. Or you could try biofeedback, acupuncture or yoga. And any form of exercise is the right way of alleviating pain. According to Darnall, which method works differs with different individuals depending on the age and their condition. The best strategy is to face the situation in many different angles and to consult medical professionals.

Many medical professionals have themselves experienced chronic pain. Dr. Hanscom suffered from chronic back discomfort for almost 15 years. He decided to look for options other than surgery. In his book, “Back in Control,” his strategy for dealing with chronic pain includes ways on how to sleep soundly, managing his stress and taking medication for the aching, coupled with meditative-type methods to shift his brain from the pain pathways to no-pain conduits. However, Hanscom skirts the issue of emotions and chronic pain, stating feeling is but a very shallow connection to it.

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You Can Be Free From Pain

The close relationship between pain and emotions should not be a source of personal blame for people suffering from chronic pain. Darnall states that explaining the relationship between depression and feelings is about empowering people and not about blaming them. Harris shifted to a new pain management medicine for her psoriatic arthritis, and her symptoms improved, but she reports that having a transformed rapport with her family. She can now enjoy things like playing with her kids and coaching her youngest child in cheerleading, which has helped relieve her aches and pain.

Hanscom has mentioned that his patients were freed from pain using his strategies. However, there are many individuals with chronic pain who will still feel some level of pain. Despite this, their emotional state can even help them deal with their chronic pain. Boynes-Shuck states that some days are terrible for her, but daily, her attitude determines what kind of day ’she’s going to have.

Categories: Understanding Pain

Emotional Pain: How To Deal With It

 

 

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In life’s journey, you often encounter situations that result in emotional pain. “Emotional pain can become an addiction to some people. Overwhelmed with feelings like sadness, depression, guilt, shame or fear, these emotions become so common and constant that you may feel like it’s a part of you and you can’t imagine life without it,” according to Elizabeth Hartney, PhD.

In his book, Emotional First Aid, Guy Winch, a blogger from Psychology Today, lists seven such cases and provides tips on how to deal with them.

The first situation is rejection. It is natural to feel pain when a family member stops talking to you or your friends start ignoring you. Winch suggests four tips. First, stop criticizing yourself. Second, be aware of your strengths. Third, search for other people to replace the ones who rejected you. Last, prepare yourself for upcoming rejections by practicing on minor rejections that are easily surmounted.

The second situation is the loneliness. Loneliness can be a vicious cycle wherein the longer you go without socializing with others, the harder it is to make new friends or keep in touch with old friends. If you believe that no one cares about you or that other people are thinking negatively of you, Winch suggests you fight that belief with logical counterarguments. Winch also suggests practicing empathy, such as getting a pet that you can care for.

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The third situation is loss and trauma. It is perfectly normal to feel suffering when you lose someone you love or when you have a traumatic experience. Winch suggests that you give yourself time to heal and to try to ease the pain using your usual coping methods.

The fourth situation is guilt. Winch lists three kinds of guilt. There’s unresolved guilt wherein you feel that you have not adequately apologized to someone you have wronged. Then there’s survivor guilt wherein you survive a situation that has one or more other fatalities. And finally there’s separation guilt wherein you believe you don’t deserve an independent and successful life. For unresolved guilt, Winch recommends that you apologize. For survivor and separation guilt, Winch advises that you apologize to yourself and then to forgive yourself.

The fifth situation is rumination. Rumination happens when you mentally go over and over your unhappy memories. Winch recommends that you tell yourself that other people do not see your mistakes in the same magnitude as you do. What seems to be a significant failure on your part might seem minor to others, or they may not even be aware of it. Winch also recommends distracting yourself and turning your mind to other thoughts. If you are angry at someone, try to see the positive side. If someone is insulting you or putting you down, view their words as constructive criticism and try to use them as opportunities for self-improvement.

“I can recognize that I have the strength, resilience, and value to heal this hurt over time. I will stay true to my deepest values, focus on creating more value in my life, reach out to friends and other loved ones, recognize human frailty in my spouse and in myself, evaluate my options for a better future.” These words were uttered by Steven Stosny, Ph.D. for you to move on and heal.

The sixth situation is a failure. Emotional pain can result from shame due to breakdowns. Anxiety can also result from a fear of failure. Fear of making a mistake can even result in actual self-fulfilling failure. Winch’s recommendation is to talk to some close to you. They can provide emotional support and help you see the situation in a brighter light. For fear of failure, Winch suggests distracting yourself and using humor to cope with real or imagined shortcomings.

 

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And the seventh situation is low self-esteem. Having low esteem can be a vicious cycle lowering your self-esteem even further. It makes you vulnerable to other people’s criticisms. It makes you doubt your abilities leading to your inadequate performance in your activities. Winch’s recommendations for the different situations that result in emotional pain can be used to deal with low self-esteem but in greater quantity. This includes being compassionate to yourself and focusing on your strengths. Winch also recommends that you practice mindfulness, exercise willpower, and admit to yourself that you will fail sometimes.

Winch’s tips and recommendations can be categorized as cognitive-behavioral therapy, wherein changes in thoughts and behavior result in changes in one’s emotions. But if Winch’s strategies do not work, you should seek help from a mental health professional. As Elyssa Barbash Ph.D. said, “These people want to feel healthy and be free from distress, so they are more willing to actively engage in therapy in order to make changes.”

Most of the situations people encounter that result in emotional pain can be dealt with using Winch’s suggestions. You can use these strategies to prevent you from wallowing in emotional distress.

Categories: Pain Management

Parenting A Child With Chronic Physical Pain

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Chronic pain is severe as is, but how can ensure that you can still raise your child the best way despite it? “Chronic pain also often includes a tremendous psychological and social burden; children with ongoing pain regularly miss school, are unable to participate in activities, have reduced social relationships, and are three times more likely to have symptoms of anxiety and depression than children without pain,” says Rachael Coakley Ph.D.

These points may help you, the parent, always do your job effectively, being fair and firm on your child. Medications can only do so much. As many may have said, the household is still the critical factor in all of this. You will need to make sure you understand the pain, yet encourage him/her to normalize, not letting the pain consume him/her.

Routines & Rewarding

Chronic pain is a routine of pain, so what does one do? Fight it back with a method of your own. Encourage him/her to continue with school but do ask for considerations for the condition for things such as gym class and any other potential hazards.

A function may help dull out the pain and does more so when it improves. Encourage (not threaten) the child to do chores, starting with simple ones such as taking care of his room or preparing the table for dinner, and reward them for doing so. Putting up a schedule on the fridge door may be recommended, so to support keeping a routine.

However, keep in mind the reality of the condition, gradually adjusting the routine to best suit the child’s capabilities. Do try to reach out to professionals for more information and support on the matter.

Differing rewards can be given to a child, depending on age. Younger ones can use a sticker system to keep track of their success every day, while older ones appreciate praise about their independence.

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Sleep Hygiene

Sleep management is very much a factor in this. Unchecked, lack of sleep can cause mood swings and can worsen the pain experience. Many things can distract from getting the adequate hours in, and as such, guidelines need to be followed, such as:

  • No caffeine, sugar, spice within four hours of bedtime
  • Limit the screen time an hour right before bed
  • Keeping everything that has a screen outside the bedroom
  • Teaching the child to relax come night and eventually fall asleep of their own accord

Help With Transitions

Your child is going through a time of many a change, be it upcoming middle school, joining a new camp, dabbling in an after-school activity, or joining the school team. An essential step in all of this is having a relaxed conversation; ask them about their fears and assure them they’re going to be alright.

Do, however, encourage him to stay on a routine, keeping in mind that the child needs support from you, and help them regain their independence, which they may want when middle school comes.

“Focusing on what the child can do to help himself or herself empowers the child to get control over the pain instead of allowing the pain to take control,” says child psychologist Laura Goldstein, PsyD.

What Not To Do

  • Do not ignore the child’s pain. Surely there may not be visible signs, but that doesn’t excuse you from ignoring it. It will be essential that the child knows that you believe their pain.
  • Do not heavily focus on the pain. As Wilde has said, “everything in moderation”; and it sure does apply here. Doing the extreme opposite is also not healthy for the situation, as it may just worsen the psyche more.
  • Do not be over-protective. Children, especially older ones, may feel belittled when you do this. Your job is only to guide them, not control them or the environment around you.
  • Let the child speak for himself/herself.
  • Do not coddle the child. Just because pain is present doesn’t mean you can be lax on your parenting. Be on the lookout if the child attempts to manipulate the situation unjustly, and mete out consequences.
  • Do not chase a cause that isn’t there. Touring a whole host of specialists or piling the tests on a patient doesn’t help with the psychological aspect, and as such, isn’t recommended.
  • Do not let the pain define him/her. Draw attention to his/her talents instead of the condition. It could help with mental well-being.
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Self-Support

Dealing with a child in chronic pain may demand much out of you, and as such, you need to take care of yourself. After all, you could not adequately take care of your child if you’re also in an unfit state. Sometimes, it is ok to hang back, watch some Netflix, play a game, etc. Everyone has different ways and needs, but here are the more common ones:

  • Enough sleeping hours
  • Exercise
  • A balanced diet
  • Socialization
  • Enjoyable activities/hobbies

Do remember that it’s okay to seek professional help if it would for the better. Accept that sometimes, it’s ok to be human with weaknesses. “Therapy goes beyond survival to enhancing your life. “It can help people develop and foster passion, productivity, and balance in their lives,” said psychotherapist Chris Boyd, MA.

Categories: Pain Management

Chronic Pain In Children

 

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What Is Pain?

Pain is defined as an unpleasant sensation that happens when the body meets an unfavorable stimulus, acting as a warning system to prevent further injury to the body. That way, the body is protecting itself, allowing the affected part to heal safely. Usually, one experiencing pain should rest and if possible/applicable, seek medical help.

 

What’s Chronic Pain?

However, if the pain doesn’t stop after three months, even after the injury is healed. It is considered chronic pain.

Chronic pain can be caused by changes to the central nervous system and brain, continuing the pain to persist without the presence of an injury. Such pain can range from moderate to disabling and may affect, if not inhibit some activities children usually enjoy. “Over 1.7 million children in the United States are known to have chronic pain and that the cost of treating this pain is almost 20 billion dollars per year, chronic pain remains an invisible and under recognized health problem for kids and teens,” according to Rachael Coakley Ph.D.

Chronic pain may inhibit otherwise enjoyable activities at school, such as sports, social functions, among others.

It may cause hindrances never experienced before to otherwise routine tasks, such as chores, bathing, or even merely walking or climbing upstairs.

Such pain can also cause sleeping problems, and mood changes, which may entail anxiety and depression, and can lead to social isolation. “It seems obvious that experiencing a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, would be required for someone to be diagnosed. But some people who are diagnosed with depression do not report feeling depressed, sad or low, but rather, they report experiencing significantly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day. Either one, or both together, can be present when considering a diagnosis of depression.”Simon Rego, PsyD

Chronic Disease = Chronic Pain?

Many cases of chronic disease in children also entail chronic pain. Pain can be initially caused then prolonged by the chronic condition affecting him/her. Such children experience lifestyle and function changes mentioned previously. In such afflicted states, pain may be amplified by the central nervous system sending excessive pain signals from the body. This process makes a usually bearable pain more severe than it needs to.

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How To Determine Chronic Pain?

If you’re expecting/suspecting chronic pain in your child/children, look out for complaints of a stabbing, shooting, burning, or stinging feeling. Also, it may be continuous or may have brief episodes where it’s intense. All of this is caused by nerve damage, which leads to the nerves signaling to be out of whack.

Such pain can prove challenging to treat because the nerves aren’t working correctly. Because of that, otherwise painless activities may prove painful, such as when clothes rub on skin or shower water hits the afflicted area. With the pain processing being in an abnormal state, it also causes already painful episodes to be doubly so.

How Can You Treat Chronic Pain?

Due to the nature of chronic pain, different measures may need to be taken, because the usual pain medications that are called in may not be responsive to a child. Thus, alternative remedies are called upon for the damage in the central nervous system.

Medications include:

  • Anticonvulsants
  • Anti-depressants
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Topical analgesics
  • Alternative treatments include:
  • Aromatics
  • Imagery
  • Hypnosis
  • Massage
  • Biofeedback
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
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Certain cases may require the use of nerve block. An anesthetic used to reduce the sense of feeling, thus reducing the pain, injected in the affected area.

If chronic pain is to be eradicated, it would also involve re-training the nerves sending abnormal signals. On-going physical therapy and generalized conditioning would be included in the process. A pain psychologist can also be consulted to explore feelings, discover relaxation techniques, and identify appropriate coping strategies for the benefit of the child’s functions and the gradual decrease of pain over time.

“For most parents, their initial reaction if their child is in pain is to coddle them and do anything they can to help alleviate the pain. We help them understand that what often works the best in chronic pain situations is to really just help the child focus on functioning. It can be a mindset shift for most parents,” a reminder by child psychologist Laura Goldstein, PsyD.

Categories: Pain Management

“I Have A Chronic Illness”: What Happens Next?

Are you suffering from a chronic pain that is challenging to deal with? Do you think it is difficult to get on with life now that you have been diagnosed with a severe medical condition? Is it okay to sit in the corner, break down, and cry because of the opportunities that you may lose because of your health issue? If you answered yes to these questions, then this article is perfect for you. Our post for today focuses on the different things that you need to do so that you can handle your chronic pain better. The best part of all is that we are going to share some tips and strategies from an excellent therapist.

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Categories: Pain Management

Small Things You Can Do To Cope With Stress Everyday

We all know how simple stress can eat our whole day, even our supposed good night of sleep. Stress discriminates no one. It can hit everyone- children, teenagers, and most especially the adults. Psychology, however, suggests that stress can also be beneficial to each one of us. “Working effectively with stress requires taking control of our responsibility and our attitude,” according to psychologist Alicia H. Clark, PsyD. Even with the adverse effects, it brings us, experiencing stress also helps us to develop proper reactions to threatening situations.

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As a definition, stress means that reaction to a situation which we find uncomfortable, distressing, or naturally not favorable to us because such makes us threatened and anxious. True enough, if not adequately addressed, it can bring about adverse effects on our physical, emotional, and mental well-being in the long-run.

Below is the list of these small things that we can do to cope with stress every single day:

Add Healthy Food To Your Meals

Eat on time, and never try skipping meals because an empty stomach won’t help. Once you get hungry, go and buy or have something that will fill your empty stomach. However, make sure that the food you eat is healthy. Since stress has something to do with health, your diet must cooperate as well to keep you active and alive.

All the food we eat has an impact not only on our physique but also on our mental well-being. Most of the time, our meals are composed of food that is high in bad cholesterol, fats, and carbs that can aggravate our stress levels. Doctors have this diet for stress management, which composes of food that boosts levels of serotonin, also known as the “happy and calming chemical” of the brain.

Get Moving

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It does not mean a full-blast exercise or tiring workout sessions that eat your schedule. A simple walk in the neighborhood or a ten-minute walk or jog on the treadmill will do the work. It is one of the simplest ways to un-stuck those tight joints that you may have from sitting in your office the whole day. It will also allow you to breathe fresher air (if you opt to have a walk or jog outside) and to clear your view from the clutter of piles of documents that shouts work and stress.

Read Inspirational Quotes

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Better yet, start your day by reading one or a couple of inspirational quotes from social media or the internet in general. Most people are positively benefitted by reading motivational stories as it becomes their guide on their everyday lives. One quote a day will be your mind’s reason to move forward. An inspirational or motivational quote also helps in preventing negativities that trigger stress before we know it.

Learn To Pause For A While And Take A Break

Working hard does not mean working for eight hours without a break. Know when enough is enough for the day. Allocate time to stand up, crack those joints, flex a little, walk, and buy some refreshments, and connect with others. Do any of these when you think whatever it is that you are doing are already overloading.

Have Someone To Tell Your Day’s Activities To

Sometimes, the secret is to connect with others. Share how your day went with your best friends or any members of the family. This work wonders because we feel like we need someone to side with us and share our sentiments, especially with our problems. Most of the time, we need someone to make us laugh and a good friend, more often than not, bears this responsibility. “When we are caring for someone or something, we do the things that support or advance the best interests of the person or thing that we care about,” said clinical psychologist Chad LeJeune, Ph.D.

However, it is essential that we keep in mind that these people themselves will not fix our stress problems for us. You may have their support, but the initiative to de-stress must also come within you.

Reflect

As soon as you find time to relax a little, think of what you have done so far. Trace the source of stress and ask yourself how to avoid it in the future, possibly. Rate your work and the way you handle your problems that day.

Create a balanced schedule in mind and the next small steps you have to undertake towards your goal. Most of the time, our stress comes from the unfinished task that we feel we cannot do before the deadline. Look at the big picture for inspiration but don’t forget the small steps you have to overcome first.

Stress, no matter how simple or small it is should not be taken lightly. Learn the power of de-stressing even at these minor instances. We may not know it, but stress management does not need complicated stuff to be successful. “Stress management starts by understanding how your body responds to stress,” according to John M. Grohol, Psy.D. It starts in the little things that each of us can do anytime.

Categories: Pain Management

The 2016 California International Conference On Bipolar Disorder

A person who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder can be challenging to deal with, which is why you have to be careful when connecting with this individual. Keep in mind that the level of care and prudence that you must show when it comes to dealing with the other person becomes heavier if you are dating him. “It helps individuals with bipolar disorder to understand what worsens and what triggers their illness,” says Stephen Ferrando, MD, director of psychiatry at Westchester Medical Center Health Network. In this article, we are going to look into the various tips discussed during the 2016 California international conference on bipolar disorder.

 

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Educate Yourself

 

The first thing that you must do is to learn more about the illness of bipolar disorder. This process is necessary so that you will stop making assumptions about the disorder. Fortunately, it is now easy to gather information about a particular topic since free resources are everywhere. You can access materials that are available on the Internet or from books written by experts.

 

Maintain Effective Communication

 

Another thing that you have to prioritize is making sure that you maintain honest communication with the other person. Make him feel that he can open up to you at any time so that his bipolar disorder will not get in the way of the relationship.

 

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Seek Professional Help For Him

 

Do not hesitate to consider seeking professional help for your partner if you believe that his bipolar disorder has transformed him into a different person. “The first line of intervention for bipolar disorder is medication,” says Simon Rego, PsyD, chief psychologist. Take note that the services of a therapist or psychiatrist may come in handy during this challenging situation.

 

If your loved one is going through various challenges, be sure to promise yourself that you will never leave him no matter what happens. “A person with bipolar may lose their job or their relationships with other people,” says Dr. David Roane, MD, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Always remind yourself that you are patient and understanding. As long as you know how to deal with or handle the other person, there is nothing to worry about.

 

 

Categories: Pain Management