Pain, anxiety and depression, memory issues

Do we really understand what quality-of-life affects pain has on a person who we see regularly for their opioids?
Findings published in the Journal of Affective Disorders related to a survey of adults with anxiety or a mood disorder showed that over half cope with chronic pain.
It seems that the dual burden of chronic physical conditions and mood and anxiety disorders is a significant and growing problem.

Here’s what the survey found:

Among individuals with a mood disorder, chronic pain was the most common, reported by 50 per cent, followed by:

  • Respiratory disease at 33%
  • Cardiovascular disease by 10%
  • Arthritis by 9% and
  • Diabetes by 7%

Anxiety disorders were also common for those with:

  • chronic pain disorder 45%
  • Respiratory at 30%
  • Arthritis and cardiovascular disease each 11%

These results shed new light on the public health impact of the dual burden of physical and mental illness.

Chronic disease coupled with a psychiatric disorder is a pressing issue that we pharmacists should consider when dealing with our patients – especially the heavy mental health burden experienced by those with two or more chronic diseases.

Last week in JAMA Internal Medicine published findings also show that chronic pain brings a bigger risk of mental decline and dementia.

Findings suggest that chronic pain might be related to changes in the brain that contribute to memory problems.

When you consider that up to one in three older people suffer from chronic pain, understanding the relationship between pain and cognitive decline is an important first step towards finding ways to help this population.

What can we actually do?

  • Get involved in discussions about pain.
  • Be informed about options – magnesium powder for sleep quality, readily-absorbed turmeric extract as supportive pain treatment, lipoic acid and B12 for nerve pain, MSM for inflammation, and the list goes on.

The other option? Dispense quickly and cheaply and watch as your patient takes control and uses these things to assess their own improvements.

These suggestions rely on your engagement and self confidence to be part of the wellness aspirations of even the most chronically ill patient you have.

It’s a rather satisfying part of community practice.

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