What is Anxiety – How does it affect pain?







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What Is Anxiety - How Does It Affect Pain?

Written by Bonnie Palmer Medibank Modified and posted By Helen Potter 2019 | Filed Under Brain TrainingChronic PainIn Touch PhysiotherapyPainPhysiotherapyStay ActiveTips, Anxiety

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How does Anxiety affect Pain?
  • Anxiety contributes to how you perceive your pain
  • High anxiety may amplify the messages reaching your brain so you then interpret these as pain
  • You brain receives more signals than the injury deserves
  • If you are on holidays you might just take it easy for a day. But if you have a vital work or social engagement you may consider your pain is more of a threat
  • When you are not sleeping well the nervous system does not rest and recover from its daily activity

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·        Thought viruses (and Pain)

What causes anxiety?

Around 25% of Australians have sought treatment for an anxiety disorder. Two million Australians will experience symptoms each year.

Common causes include:
  • A family history of mental health conditions
  • Developing and managing a chronic disease
  • Stressful life events - the loss of a loved one, a job or end of a relationship
Anxiety can take many different forms including:
  • A constant underlying feeling of worry
  • Panic disorders
  • Social phobias
  • Specific phobias (claustrophobia and agoraphobia)
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
What are the symptoms of anxiety?

Symptoms take both an emotional and physical form which include:

  • Excessive worry or feelings of apprehension
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • An increased heart rate

The great news is there are lots of effective treatments available.

How can you treat anxiety?

You can changes how you think and feel, and reduce your anxiety with:

  • Professional help from a psychologist
  • Regular physical exercise 
  • Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy and relaxation techniques 
  • Medication recommended by your GP or therapist

Medication may make your anxiety more manageable so that you sleep better and are then able to do more active treatments yourself or with a therapist. Pain may be more amenable to physiotherapy if you r anxiety is controlled.

If you think you might be experiencing anxiety and it’s negatively impacting your life, speak to your GP.  Ask for a longer consultation. They’ll be able to help diagnose the problem and suggest the right treatment.

For mental health information and support contact: 

Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636

Lifeline on 13 11 14.**


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Chronic Pain: a symptom or a disease?

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Mindfulness - A useful tool to manage pain

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