Living with Chronic Pain

4 Signs a Family Should Seek Help to Cope With Chronic Pain


When one or more members of a family develop chronic pain, the family dynamic is often affected. Roles and routines that worked before chronic pain may need to be adjusted. Family members may experience strong emotions, such as fear, sadness, frustration, or anger, which can strain familial relationships if not handled in a healthy way.

A mental health professional, such as a family therapist or psychologist, can help a family cope with changes, express and process emotions in healthy ways, and address any other concerns that may arise.

Four signs that a family may want to consider counseling include the following:

  1. Signs of anxiety or depression in any family member
    Depressed mood, changes in sleeping or eating behaviors, loss of interest in activities, and irritability are strong indicators that an individual’s mental health needs attention. Even if one person in the family develops anxiety or depression, it can impact the whole family.
  2. Difficulties coping with the reality of chronic pain
    A counselor or therapist can help a family develop new routines, adjust to new roles, or learn coping skills to deal with emotions that develop due to chronic pain.
  3. Breakdown in communication
    If communication seems more difficult than it used to be, outside assistance may be beneficial. Examples of communication issues include giving the “silent treatment,” persistent yelling, or manipulative or condescending speech.
  4. New behavior problems in children
    If a child starts getting in trouble at school or a teenager starts acting out, they may be struggling to deal with the changes or emotions that accompany having a family member with chronic pain.

Counseling, whether for one family member or the family as a whole, can help address issues related to chronic pain and strengthen the family unit.

Additional sources: American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and Verywell Family

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