Between 12% and 17% of the Spanish population lives with chronic pain and of these, about a third have a diagnosis of depression
Indeed, pain and stress are two factors that go hand in hand. Both “feed each other”, according to Dr. Antoni Castel , coordinator of the Psychology and Pain Working Group of the Spanish Pain Society . In fact, between 12% and 17% of the Spanish population lives with chronic pain and, of these, about a third have a diagnosis of depression . But really, when a person suffers from chronic pain, beyond the physical, do they find answers for those emotional ailments that are also part of their state? How do we deal with pain?
This and many other issues related to pain were addressed within the framework of the III Conference on Psychology and Pain , where different psychologists and doctors aimed to share conceptual aspects, update knowledge and evaluation mechanisms in the treatment of the psychological aspects linked to pain. Its objective? Put on the table all those psychological issues that are part of chronic pain and that is hardly talked about. Since, really, on many occasions, there is great difficulty in evaluating the emotional component in pain . What does this ailment generate for us? How does it make us feel?
“Mood is essential in any patient, but especially in the person who suffers from chronic pain,” explains Dr. Castel. However, we must be aware of the type of environment that surrounds our workplace. Does it generate anxiety? Stress? Do fears and insecurities reappear? Medical specialists consider that stress is a factor to be taken into account, even more so in the case of chronic pain. If pressure situations in the workplace increase, this can also strongly affect people who suffer from chronic pain and who frequently find their skills and functionality restricted.
“This is a real problem. The patient with chronic pain will have limitations in his work and will have repercussions in his execution, at the same time that he will perceive that he has more difficulties, which has consequences for his self-esteem, ”said Dr. Castel. Faced with this, only one in three Pain Units has psychologists or psychiatrists on its team. And, although the priorities of these units are to attend and offer medical assistance to patients with chronic pain, according to Dr. Castel, it would be necessary to have “a greater number of Multidisciplinary Pain Units that have psychologists or psychiatrists on their team” .
Despite this, 94% of the units consulted consider that it is absolutely necessary for psychology to be part of the Pain Units. However, the reality is different. As indicated by Professor Juan Antonio Micó , president of the SED and spokesman for the board of directors in the Psychology and Pain Working Group, it is first necessary to “make visible the psychological problems associated with suffering from pain and sensitize the authorities about the lack of resources dedicated to this topic ”.