How to Tell if Your Mental Health Is Causing Physical Pain

How to Tell if Your Mental Health is Causing Physical Pain

Physical pain has multiple potential causes. In some cases, emotional distress or mental health symptoms cause people to feel aches or discomfort in various parts of their body. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, “The brain supports a complex cyclical interaction between pain and specific emotional states.” Fortunately, Alter Wellness Care provides evidence-based treatment programs to help individuals struggling with complex mental health issues, including symptoms that cause chronic pain. 

The Connections Between Mental and Physical Pain

Mental distress can manifest as pain in your body. Stress can cause you to feel muscle aches, stomach pain, headaches, and other physical symptoms. Sometimes mental health issues also contribute to chronic pain. According to Nature Reviews Neuroscience, “Pain is a complex sensory and emotional experience that can vary widely between people and even within an individual depending on the context and meaning of the pain and the psychological state of the person.” In addition, “Our emotional state also has an enormous influence on pain; a negative emotional state increases pain, whereas a positive state lowers pain.” 

A few of the mental health disorders known to cause various forms of physical pain include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder 
  • Depression and other mood disorders

Such pain can manifest in any area of the body and range in intensity from mild to debilitating. Moreover, some physical pain caused by mental health disorders may appear in unexpected ways. Everyone has their own reaction to stress and psychological issues. Sometimes the pain is directly linked to the emotion or symptom experienced. For example, a person may experience chest pain if they feel shocked, anxious, or afraid. Further, the degree of pain is sometimes related to the severity of the emotional response.

How to Recognize Psychological Pain

It’s not always easy to recognize psychological pain that manifests physically. Co-occurring conditions causing chronic pain are especially challenging. Often, people report overlapping symptoms. In some cases, you may have trouble discerning which symptoms are caused by physical and psychological distress.

You can attempt to identify pain caused by mental symptoms by doing the following: 

  • Monitoring to see if physical pain appears or goes away based on emotional triggers
  • Ruling out biological sources of the pain using medical testing and assessments
  • Checking to see if acute stress causes or worsens physical pain

People facing these problems use mood journaling and other methods to track emotional and physical states. Monitoring feelings, behaviors, and physical reactions can help determine if something psychological triggers physical pain. However, physical discomfort sometimes manifests hours or days after the triggering event, making tracking challenging. In addition, some people may experience physical pain off and on for years after a single emotionally traumatic event. 

Mental Health and Chronic Physical Pain

Some individuals diagnosed with mental health issues or substance use disorder (SUD) have co-occurring chronic physical pain. Emotional distress increases the severity of pain caused by chronic conditions. However, no two cases are the same. Professional mental health treatment is the best way to address physical pain caused by mental health symptoms.

A few of the connections between chronic pain and mental health include the following:

  • Chronic pain decreases a person’s pain threshold, making them feel emotional reactions more intensely in their body
  • Mental health symptoms reduce stress tolerance and cause increased physical and psychological distress
  • Untreated mental health symptoms lead to chronic physical pain 

The experts at Alter Wellness Care can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and educate you about the possible underlying issues contributing to your condition. Psychoeducational groups are part of the treatment programs and provide essential insights. You can gain self-awareness by talking with your care team and peers about the psychological stressors impacting your physical health. 

Alter Wellness Care uses comprehensive assessments and screening tools to diagnose clients and provide them with effective treatment options. Individuals experiencing psychosomatic pain often benefit from integrative treatment addressing the underlying issues and physical pain simultaneously. You can collaborate with the care team to create a tailored treatment program designed to meet your needs. 

Aftercare Planning at Alter Wellness Care

Treating the underlying issues reduces the risk of experiencing psychosomatic pain caused by mental health issues. However, sometimes people require extended support to maintain new lifestyle changes or healthy coping mechanisms. Alter Wellness Care provides clients with aftercare planning and alumni services. You can live pain-free by following the guidance of your care team and using available aftercare resources.

Aftercare planning ensures the following: 

  • Reduced stress during the transition out of structured care 
  • Continued emotional stability and access to support services
  • Increased self-confidence and self-efficacy

For individuals with co-occurring chronic pain, aftercare facilitates a smoother transition out of treatment and reduces the risk of exacerbating symptoms. Reducing psychosomatic pain can help you cope with other physical health issues in a healthier way. The care team ensures all clients achieve emotional stability and feel comfortable managing symptoms before transferring them to continuing care.

Professional mental health treatment is essential for individuals living with physical pain caused by emotional distress. Alter Wellness Care welcomes you with programs that fit your lifestyle. We offer intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs to help keep you moving forward in your recovery. Our treatment clinic uses evidence-based methods to treat individuals diagnosed with mental health disorders and co-occurring conditions. Our mental health experts can help you develop the skills to manage your symptoms. Please call our office at (866) 311-3510 to schedule an initial consultation with our clinic. Alter Wellness Care is here to assist you based on your needs. You are not alone. We can help you manage your condition.

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