The ability to deal with anxiety in a healthy way is critical to maintaining your quality of life. It is even more important for someone who experiences chronic pain. When you’re experiencing anxiety, your body chemistry changes. Chemicals are secreted that create an arousal state. Your senses are heightened. As a result, your perception of pain is heightened.
There are several principles I have learned from my own experience and working with my patients:
- Untreated disruptive anxiety always gets worse. Untreated, it will NEVER get better on its own.
- Anxiety is highly treatable: if it is acknowledged and treated properly, there is a strong chance it will decrease sharply.
- Anxiety is both normal and necessary–it will never disappear. Every human is programmed to avoid situations that would potentially affect his/her survival.
- It is important to identity both the sources of your anxiety and your reaction to anxiety.
- The more you try to suppress fear, the stronger it will become.
- Avoiding anxiety becomes its own stressor.
- It is necessary to become comfortable with anxiety.
Uncontrolled anxiety will alter your perception of pain and your ability to cope with it. I find it tragic that such a treatable problem is often not adequately addressed.