Some level of physical pain is inevitable. Chronic pain is a much different story. It might involve, for example, fibromyalgia, arthritis, headaches and migraines, nerve damage, and low back issues.

Technically, if pain lasts for at least six months, it is deemed chronic. Chronic pain negatively impacts your quality of life and hampers your ability to function daily. In addition, it can lead to associated symptoms like low energy, decreased mobility, and general muscle tension.

Less obvious are the emotional costs of chronic pain. At least half of those with chronic pain also struggle with anxiety. Let’s learn more and explore strategies for addressing the anxiety of chronic pain.

Chronic Pain and Mental Distress

Nobody likes feeling sick in any way. Among many other impacts, it causes us to withdraw and miss out on social interactions. Imagine what it’s like when chronic pain is present. You never know if and when you’ll feel up to accepting an invitation.

As a result, you may worry if friends and family believe you. Life gets lonely as you grow more isolated. This can induce emotions like dissatisfaction and hopelessness.

Not only are you struggling with the reality of daily physical pain, but mental distress arrives due to:

  • Feeling like a burden because you need so much help.
  • The inability to work consistently can hurt your income and cause shame and guilt.
  • All your relationships seem affected.
  • Even when it’s said with good intentions, there’s only so many times you hear someone suggest the pain is “all in your head.”
  • Uncertainty becomes overwhelming as time passes and you wonder when you’ll finally recover.

All the above can cause chronic anxiety to meld with chronic pain to create a challenging scenario. Fortunately, a blend of professional intervention and self-education can help you shift your circumstances and move toward thriving again.

Strategies for Addressing Anxiety in Those with Chronic Pain


It’s understandable if you feel anger about the pain you’re experiencing. “Why me?” you may wonder. Other folks may put on a brave face and assure everyone that they’re “fine.” Practicing acceptance allows you to move forward to the next step: getting help and getting healed.

image of a man of color sitting on a couch who is crying and in distressDo Your Homework

Self-education is the path for you if you want to know what’s happening and why. It’s also how you learn about available options. Your medical team will know their stuff, but it’s always wise to become an expert on your specific situation. The level of pain and anxiety you feel is unique to you, so stay empowered and involved.

Talk Back to Your Inner Critic and Celebrate Progress

Anxiety is a skilled liar. Get into the habit of challenging negative thoughts before they take hold. Chronic pain and anxiety can give you the impression that you’ll never feel better.

Balance out that faulty perception by celebrating when you make progress. This is how you create positive momentum.

Don’t Forget Self-Care

Both pain and anxiety can worsen when we’re not caring for ourselves. Make it part of your daily life to tend to base self-care like:

  • Getting in physical activity every day
  • Maintaining regular sleep habits
  • Making healthy eating and drinking choices
  • Calming your mind with stress management and relaxation techniques
  • Working on basic coping skills with your therapist

Help Is Available

You may opt to find a support group — online or in person. Interacting with others who understand the struggle is validating and often leads to useful new ideas. One-on-one therapy is also a proven path for digging deep to understand underlying issues and patterns. It’s how you learn to address the emotional strain of chronic pain. I invite you to contact me to learn more about anxiety therapy.