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  • Writer's pictureRehabon Physical Therapy

The Effects of Chronic Pain on Mental Health

As humans, it is important to take care of our mind, body, and soul. All three are intertwined and have a direct impact on how we feel on a day-to-day basis. Physical health problems significantly increase our risk of developing mental health problems, and vice versa. According to nearly one in three people with a long-term physical health condition also have mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. There are three foundational components of our physical health that we need to manage to ensure that our mental health is functioning in tip top shape as well. These components are what we like to call the “triad of health.”

1. Nutrition: “You are what you eat.” This is a common cliché that we’ve heard for years but it’s definitely a saying that we should take more seriously.

When people have a car that they care about they tend put high quality fuel in the car so that it runs correctly, (even when gas prices are as high as they are…) so why wouldn’t we care for our bodies the same way? In a world where processed foods are king due to its convenience (especially with the emergence of all the food delivery apps available) we can find ourselves indulging in more “comfort” foods rather than whole foods. Whole Foods such as fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, and nuts, seeds and legumes are brain protective foods that can help boost your mood, and energy level. Protein is also a critical part of your diet that fuels and feeds your muscles and reduces hunger and appetite. Lastly...drink more water! Being hydrated is vital to keep your joints lubricated, boost your metabolism, and aide in weight loss.

2. Exercise: Taking care of your physical health, will create positive results for your mental health as well. Anywhere from light to vigorous physical activity increases endorphins, and serotonin which in turn improves your mood, and reduces the frequency of stress, and depression. This means that you don’t have to train for a triathlon or be able to deadlift 500lbs to feel the impact of physical activity on your mental health. Do something that you enjoy! Whether it be going for a quick walk after lunch or dinner, playing a sport you enjoy, or even playing VR video games. If you find some time to get up and move throughout your day, your body and your mind will thank you.

3. Sleep: We can eat healthy, and exercise everyday but if we don’t sleep well then chances are our mental and physical health will suffer as well.

It is suggested that we need about 7-9 hours of sleep to function optimally. 1 in 3 of us in society don’t meet that requirement with stress, technology, and our work lives to blame. Getting enough sleep on a consistent basis will work wonders for you physically and mentally. While you sleep, your body is hard at work repairing itself by releasing proteins and hormones that help restore damaged tissues which in turn will create a healthier, and stronger feeling body. Sleeping well can also have an impact on your mood and how sharp you are cognitively on a day to day basis.

If you are having difficulty moving or completing activities, get in contact with your primary care physician or physical therapist.

Discomfort and soreness are a part of life. What is not normal is living with pain. If you are still experiencing that pain, it's time to talk to your physical therapist or primary care physician.

Try to stay away from narcotics, injections and knife happy surgeons as a primary option for your treatment. There are no magic bullets, but majority of pain symptoms can be resolved with conservative measures like exercises, manual therapy and pain management.

  • Aimee Cervantes, Rehab Tech at Rehabon Physical Therapy. Aimee is a PTA graduate and has experience at different settings of Physical Therapy. She plans to take her licensure exam after her wedding! Aimee's hobbies are crafting and graphic design. She enjoys seeing her ideas come to life!

  • Irfan Ibrahim is an Owner/Physical Therapist at Rehabon Physical Therapy, Downers Grove IL 60515. He enjoys sunshine and rainbows with his three children. Loves hiking, biking and golfing but he has accepted to live with his mediocre skills. Questions??!! Email him: follow him on Facebook

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