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Understanding Mental Health & Chronic Pain

Understanding Mental Health & Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is described as pain that lasts longer than six months. Chronic pain can be mild or severe, be continuous, or appear in episodes. Chronic pain affects joints, muscles, the back, or the head. Prolonged chronic pain can take a toll on a person emotionally causing severe mood-related issues and disinterest in daily activities as well as sleeplessness and fatigue.

Chronic pain is often a symptom of an underlying illness or condition, such as fibromyalgia, neuropathy, arthritis, etc… Additionally, chronic pain is often associated with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, resulting in a low health-related quality of life, and in some cases an inability to continue working.

Mental Health America (“MHA”) released a new report, Early, Equitable and Trauma Responsive Care for Chronic Pain and Mental Health, that explores the connection between arthritis, chronic pain and often untreated mental health conditions, the communities most affected by both conditions, and the barriers to care that they face.

Early, Equitable and Trauma Responsive Care for Chronic Pain and Mental Health collected data from 161,363 individuals who self-identified as living with arthritis or other chronic pain and completed a mental health screen from 2015-2019.

The findings showed that:

  • 79% of people with arthritis or other chronic pain screened positive or moderate to severe for a mental health condition.
  • Chronic pain was linked to worsened mental health status across a variety of mental health conditions 54% of screeners with chronic pain experienced severe anxiety versus 43% without; 54% with chronic pain were positive for bipolar versus 39% without; 47% with chronic pain experienced severe depression versus 36% without; and 92% with chronic pain were positive for PTSD versus 83% without.
  • PTSD was the primary concern for screeners with chronic pain 48% of people who took a PTSD screen and reported having a chronic health condition had chronic pain.
  • Arthritis or chronic pain were experienced across numerous population groups in addition to older adults. Over half (54 percent) of veterans or active duty military who reported having a chronic health condition had arthritis or other chronic pain, followed by caregivers at 47% and trauma survivors at 46%.
  • Among people with arthritis or chronic pain who screened positive or moderate to severe for a mental health condition, 40% had never been diagnosed. And over half (52%) who had been treated for a mental health condition in the past were no longer receiving treatment.

Click here to download a copy of MHA’s full report.

If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic pain, depression, PTSD, or any other illness, and you are being denied benefits by your insurer, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation at 888-569-6013 or use our online contact form. We understand, and we can help.

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