Three Ways Chronic Pain May Be Impacting Your Life

We all know about emotional pain but what about physical pain?

Emotional pain and crises can change a person’s quality of life, perspective on the world, and personality, but what about physical pain? Can chronic pain cause this too? 

Physical pain can indeed change a person in ways that are as life-altering as emotional pain. The biggest reason is that often chronic pain is accompanied by anxiety, depression, and even insomnia. A recent article “Chronic Pain Does Not Occur in Isolation” highlights the connection between chronic pain and stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Below, let’s look more closely at how chronic pain may be impacting your life in connection to mental health and well-being.

Chronic Pain Can Cause Mood Changes or Disorders

There’s no doubt that pain affects mood, and vice versa. Researchers used to believe that emotional conditions like anxiety and depression caused chronic pain. But as they have learned more about the way the brain and nervous system function, they’ve discovered that pain has some of the same biological processes that anxiety and depression do. 

Chronic pain can cause feelings of hopelessness and depression, and depression can magnify chronic pain. A study from the University of Arizona found that among all U.S. adults today who have unremitted anxiety or depression, 55.6% also suffer from chronic pain. The same study also found that adults with chronic pain were approximately 5x more likely to report anxiety or depression symptoms compared to individuals without chronic pain.

Pain provokes an emotional response, and with chronic pain, many people are constantly stressed or tense. This can quickly translate to anxiety, depression, and other emotional issue (see below) commonly associated with depression.

Chronic pain can contribute to or result in the following related to mood, emotion, and mental health:

  • Anxiety
  • Altered mood, irritability, or  anger
  • Confused thinking
  • Decreased self-esteem and social isolation

It can also consequently result in issues related to quality of life including problems at work, physical deconditioning or weight loss/gain, and lack of sexual desire and sleep.

Here’s an illustrated example of how pain can impact the quality of life, related to mood:

Leo is a hair stylist who is on his feet all day, so when he developed persistent back pain it really affected his life. He’s tried everything from acupuncture to a chiropractor, and even the ancient form of alternative medicine called cupping therapy.

Between clients at work, he uses a power massager on the pain areas. He’s also been known to lie down in the break room and have one of his co-workers help him with stretching exercises.

Each of these tactics provides temporary relief, but it only lasts for as long as an hour to a day. None of them have a lasting effect.

He hasn’t tried medication yet to help ease his pain because he worries about the side effects and the possibility of developing a dependency, or even worse, an addiction. He’s considering chemical pain management if things don’t improve soon.

This situation brings feelings of helplessness and depression for Leo. He often feels anxiety about the future of the career he loves. Leo gets pretty angry at the world because he doesn’t see why he has to endure this chronic back pain. The anger can lead to self-pity and resentment that he has a hard time controlling.

Chronic Pain Can Change Your Behavior

As mentioned above, chronic pain has been connected to social isolation, a feeling of hopelessness, lack of exercise, and mood shifts. While chronic pain alone can cause issues related to mobility and social interaction due to physical limitations, the compounding effects of anxiety and/or depression can further this issue.

And with this combination, a person with chronic pain may be more likely to develop chronic depression. A randomized controlled trial from 2021 showcased the role of social isolation in physical and emotional outcomes among pain patients, finding that individuals with chronic pain benefit from social interaction, including positive improvements in self-reported emotional and physical functioning

The key takeaway is that similar to how medications or alcoholic drinks can alter a person’s state of mind and behaviors, chronic pain can cause you to behave differently, become more reactive or sensitive, recluse yourself from friends, family and your favorite activities, and ultimately alter your usual lifestyle. 

Below is an illustrated example showing how Leo’s behavior, and consequently his life, was changed by chronic pain:

Leo is naturally a gregarious, outgoing, active guy. He’s always on the go and spends much of his free time doing DIY projects for his home and garden. His energy at work can be infectious. In fact, some of his colleagues call him “Electric Leo”. That was before he developed the chronic back pain.

Now, his daily activities have been severely limited by his pain. Nearly every movement can inflame his back, so he has to control how he moves. No longer is he able to work in his backyard or dance around his salon to entertain his clients. He’s had to develop specific ways to stand up or sit down that will limit the pain he encounters doing either.

Chronic Pain Can Hurt Your Sleep Quality and Duration

A lack of sleep, caused by chronic pain, can make it difficult to function during the day. Pain can be both a cause and a consequence of sleep deficiency, so it’s not shocking that this bidirectional relationship can negatively impact the mental and physical health of individuals. Below are key facts related to chronic pain and sleep noted from an article published in the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.

The relationship between chronic pain and sleep issues:

  1. Deficiencies in sleep duration and quality and chronic pain are highly common comorbidities 

  2. Pain can disrupt sleep

  3. Shortened sleep sessions (or disruptive sleep) can lower pain thresholds, and increase spontaneous pain or sensitivity to pain

  4. Poor sleep quality / insufficient sleep duration are risk factors for developing chronic pain (this is concerning say for those currently experiencing acute pain)

  5. Poor sleep can contribute to heightened sensitivity to painful stimulation (hyperalgesia)


The below shows how Leo’s chronic pain led to insomnia, which also worsened his existing mental health and emotional challenges:

Leo also developed insomnia due to his condition and changed his natural sleep position in order to get the few hours of pain-free sleep that he could manage.

As a result, his behaviors toward others have further changed. The lack of sleep has put him on edge, and he can become easily provoked. Worst of all, his pain is so prevalent that it’s all he can focus on, making him less interested in the people in his life.

Leo wants the never-ending cycle of physical pain and behavioral effects to stop. Now.

Takeaway: Untreated, Chronic Pain Can Damage your Life

How have the changes in Leo’s mood and personality affected his life situations? His clients, who always look forward to seeing him, have noticed a marked change in his energy. Some have found other stylists and others are considering the change. His demeanor hasn’t helped his personal life, either. His friends seem to be less inclined to spend time with him and his short fuse has caused problems with his beleaguered partner.

His financial situation is no better either thanks to his behavior at work. All of the hours missed at work have cost him lots of money. Like many chronic pain sufferers, Leo doesn’t see an end to what has become both a financial and personal crisis.

Alpha-Stim Offers a Safer Way to Take Control of Chronic Pain

Alpha-Stim M is an FDA-cleared advanced pain management device that can help provide immediate and long-term pain relief.* But what’s unique about Alpha-Stim M is that it’s not only designed to treat physical pain. Alpha-Stim M is uniquely designed for users to also treat coexisting anxiety, insomnia, and depression.**

Learn more about Alpha-Stim M for chronic pain relief at home > 

Severe Pain Reduction

In a study of patients with severe pain, Alpha-Stim M significantly reduced pain by an average of 71% after only five treatments.1

Decrease in Post-Traumatic Pain

In a post-traumatic pain study, 56% of patients at 3 months and 85% at 6 months were somewhat or very satisfied with the device for reducing pain levels.2

Also Treats Anxiety

Alpha-Stim AID is also designed to treat anxiety, providing patients with simultaneous anxiety and insomnia relief.



*Minor and self-limiting risks:

**FDA cleared for anxiety, insomnia, and pain only, with approval for depression outside of the United States.

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