Sad woman sits on the floor. Depression and chronic fatigue. Young beautiful blonde in a gray sweater and jeans, gray textured background

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In the mid-1990s, model and actress Karen Duffy had a contract with Revlonplace of people magazine’s ranking of the most beautiful people in the world and a meeting with actor George Clooney for the Emmy Awards. She also had constant, stabbing headaches, which prompted her to see her doctor.

Duffy was diagnosed with central nervous system sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease in which the immune system creates lesions. These Duffy lesions have since formed in the brain, central nervous system, and lungs. In his book about chronic pain management (CP), she writes how she initially hoped the treatment would return her body and life to normal. However, the pain was endless and something she had to deal with constantly.

Unfortunately, many PD patients do not feel they can live with their ongoing agony. According to a 2009 study in the journal Pain medicationCP patients have a higher rate of suicide compared to people who have short-term pain or those without pain. Clinicians struggle to classify CP; say some scientists pain management has been neglected for too long.

Examples of chronic pain

Experts usually considered CP is pain lasting more than three months or beyond the expected healing time. There are two types – primary or secondary pain. It is primary when pain is the main or only concern. Examples include migraines, lower back pain, and irritable bowel syndrome.

It is secondary when the pain is the result of a disease or condition. CP can be post-operative, cancer-related, or due to conditions such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. Many CP sufferers they don’t fit well in one category, which can make treatment more challenging.

As much as 1 in 5 Americans live with CP. Back, hip, knee, and leg pain are the most common sources of CP. Worldwide, as much as 30 percent people have SR, with your back and neck pain are the most commonly cited sources of pain.

Some CP sufferers turn to massage or physical therapy for relief. But for many people, pain is uncontrollable and interferes with their quality of life.

Read more: Redefining Suicide in the United States

Living with chronic pain

Researchers are learning more about what it means to live with CP. Literature from 2015 review in The British Journal of Clinical Psychology found that CP was associated with depression, anxiety, and anger. Patients with CP also feared pain that was specifically related to their condition.

In their daily lives, people with CP are you are more likely to miss work. others struggling to sleep and then have to struggle to get through their day’s work. Constant pain and exhaustion make it difficult for some people to do simple everyday tasks like carrying a laundry basket up a flight of stairs or sweeping the kitchen floor.

In that 2022 surveyself-described CP patients like living a life they no longer recognize. Their lives feel fragmented into who they were before and who they were after the pain occurred. Once vibrant people find themselves tired after work and desperate to go to bed. Others describe how they can no longer work and feel depressed by their days off. Many lament their lost joys, such as the physical activities they used to do.

“So everything – my whole life changed so I could just walk and ride a bike for a little bit. That is all. So all my other sports and activities are gone,” said one survey participant.

CP also disrupts patients’ social lives. Pain or fatigue forces people to cancel plans or turn down invitations. As a result, many patients with CP have smaller social networks and have to deal with social isolation.

Many PD patients admit that as a result of their struggles, they have considered committing suicide as a way to end their suffering.

Read more: Chronic pain makes you think differently

Chronic pain and suicidal ideation

Patients with CP are approx five times more likely than people without pain or acute pain to have suicidal ideation (SI) — a wish to die. Some research have found that between 15 to 23 percent of CP patients have attempted suicide.

Although researchers are still trying to understand SI and CP, there seems to be a pattern in the type and intensity of pain. Back pain, for example, is more associated with an increased risk of suicide than other CP-like neuropathic pain.

Understanding risk factors

Researchers want to better understand risk factors so they can develop targeted interventions. Two main risk factors include whether the patient is depressed and catastrophizing (meaning they see their situation as dire and beyond repair).

A growing concern among clinicians is whether restrictions on opioid prescriptions will harm chronic pain patients who depend on pharmaceuticals for relief. 2017 study in General Hospital Psychiatry found that abrupt cessation of opiate prescriptions increased the risk of SI.

In late 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines which recognizes that many pain patients can safely take opioids. The Food and Drug Administration also warned doctors that a patient’s withdrawal from their prescription can cause severe withdrawal symptoms.

While some advocates argue that the safe use of opiates should be protected, others say that pain management should be studied better so that clinicians can better identify the sources of pain and offer treatment options that provide patients with both relief and hope.

Read more: Possible blood test for anxiety

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