BlogCan Mental Disorders Cause Chronic Pain? |

While many healthcare professionals are already studying the links between depression and chronic pain, there are fewer studies made into the topic of pain for people with less common mental disorders. People with conditions like addiction, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder may all suffer from additional bodily chronic pain that is related to their condition.

Addiction and chronic pain

Unfortunately, many types of chronic pain are related directly to addiction in the form of opioids taken to control pain in the first circumstance. Then, when a person attempts to stop taking opioids, they may go through a process of withdrawal that is associated with its own type of pain. Muscle aches and anxiety are common symptoms of the first stages of withdrawal, with abdominal cramping occurring as withdrawal progresses. However, these symptoms normally end within 30 hours after stopping the drug.

Schizophrenia and limited pain

There is little research about schizophrenia and pain, however, a study in The Journal of Pain attempted to systematically review the existing literature to gain a better understanding of their relationship. Surprisingly, they found that patients with schizophrenia may actually experience a lower intensity of pain as compared to the rest of the population. An earlier study goes so far as to suggest that people with schizophrenia actually have pain insensitivity. This research is important as it could advise steps for minimizing the risk of self-mutilation or practicing better self care.

Eating disorders and chronic pain

Eating disorders–ranging from anorexia to bulimia nervosa–can manifest differently in each person. Bulimia nervosa, in particular, is characterized by overeating and self-induced purging in order to control weight. This cycle can result in bowel problems and chronic abdominal pain later in life, or damage to the teeth, gums, throat, and mouth. Symptoms of anorexia, or self-starvation, may result in constipation and abdominal pain. Eating disorders can also lead to conditions related to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, including arthritis, osteoporosis, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder and pain

Chronic pain (especially back pain) can be a symptom for many anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder. This pain can be difficult to treat. As the Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes on their website:

“Those who suffer from chronic pain and have an anxiety disorder may have a lower tolerance for pain. People with an anxiety disorder may be more sensitive to medication side effects or more fearful of side effects than, and they may also be more fearful of pain than someone who experiences pain without anxiety.”

Tourette’s and chronic facial pain

Individuals with Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological condition that causes abnormal motor or vocal tics, are at a great risk for chronic pain associated with their tics. Some tics when done repeatedly and involuntarily, such as chewing the inside of your mouth or punching yourself, can cause damage and pain. The Tourettes Action organization in the UK released a fact sheet with advice for managing and preventing some of the chronic pain conditions associated with Tourette’s.

Do you suffer from mental disorders that also cause bodily pain?