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Why See a Mental Health Professional When My Body Hurts?

More than 24 million people in the U.S. sought treatment for mental illness in 2020 – many who reported pain throughout their body as one symptom. Seeing a mental health professional when you’re in physical pain may not feel intuitive, but there are a handful of physically experienced conditions that can be treated in a mental health capacity. 

Types of Pain

There are several kinds of pain, but acute and chronic pain are the most common.

  • Acute pain is usually temporary, lasting from minutes to three or more months. It’s often due to an illness or a soft-tissue injury, so it usually disappears once the illness fades or the injury heals.
  • Chronic pain persists much longer, typically more than six months and sometimes for years. Some people can’t remember when they didn’t experience chronic pain, nor what may have caused it.

Chronic Pain By the Numbers

  • 2019: About 20 percent of adults experienced chronic pain, and 7.4 percent had chronic pain that regularly interfered with daily life.
  • Chronic pain increases with age; people 65 and older get it more often.
  • Non-Hispanic white adults get more chronic pain than other ethnic groups.
  • Adults who live in rural locations report more instances of chronic pain than people who live elsewhere.

Chronic pain conditions are one of the top reasons U.S. adults seek medical care.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a type of medicine introduced in the early 1960s as a new form of anesthesia. It received mass field trials during fighting in Vietnam as it was used to treat injured U.S. combat troops. It received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval as a human and veterinarian anesthetic in 1970. Ketamine is still used for anesthesia but has other medicinal benefits, including reducing symptoms of mental illness, chronic pain, and other conditions not responsive to conventional therapy.

Why See a Mental Health Professional When My Body Hurts?

Pain is just one thing that makes us human, and it’s a vigilant town crier – ready to call out warnings of impending danger or give the notice to flee potential threats. If we can’t avoid the danger, pain tells us something’s wrong. Many times, the pain subsides on its own quickly and with little intervention. But sometimes, it stays around longer, as a chronic condition. If pain lingers, it’s probably time to see a medical professional or mental health specialist for help.

Benefits of working with a psychiatrist or mental health specialist:

  • You will learn not to catastrophize. “This is when you magnify the negative effects of pain and focus on feelings of helplessness while ruminating about the presence of pain in your life. Negative thoughts and beliefs about pain often lead to worsened emotional and social functioning and a decreased response to medical interventions for pain.” 
  • It can help you learn to deal with your fear of pain in a healthy, productive manner. If you’re always concerned or worried about sidestepping danger or protecting yourself, you’re less inclined to live a normal life – to engage physically with the world around you, excel at school and work, and be a productive member of society. This kind of mindset can result in deconditioning and a lower quality of life.
  • Working with a mental health specialist will allow you to accept the pain but not give in to it. You’ll learn to accept the pain nonjudgmentally and avoid thoughts and behaviors which could make it worse.
  • Therapy sessions will inevitably turn to discussions of other treatment options. This may include medicine, self-help, lifestyle changes, or ketamine to treat pain and mental illness symptoms.
  • By attending therapy, you can begin to work through the trauma and chronic pain symptoms affecting your quality of life.
  • You may also find therapy sessions beneficial if they offer support of lifestyle changes that allow you to participate fully in your life.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Before receiving treatment for chronic pain or mental illness, you must get diagnosed. A medical professional can use test results and other diagnostic procedures to see if there is an underlying cause for your condition. When comparing your symptoms to criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a mental health specialist will look for triggers related to your thoughts, behavior, and emotions and whether you or a blood relative has a history of mental illness.

Once diagnosed, symptoms of pain or mental illness can be treated in many ways, either with medicine, different kinds of therapy, or ketamine. 

Final Thoughts

Recognizing a cluster of symptoms can be an important first step in seeking help. When you know what to look for, you know better what to ask for when you talk to a healthcare provider. Depending on your diagnosis, ketamine therapy can be a powerful treatment tool, succeeding where many other medications fail. We’re here to help. Our team of therapists and practitioners are eager to get you the help and support you need to live the life you deserve. Contact us today.