Addressing Chronic Pain Stigma
Individuals with chronic pain often experience stigma. For example, medical professionals may assume they are drug-seeking, employers may assume they are lazy, or friends may think their pain is not real or exaggerated. Individuals must address this stigma in order to prevent it from affecting their mental and physical health.
Six tips for dealing with chronic pain stigma include the following:
- Prioritize treatment. The stigma surrounding chronic pain should not prevent an individual from seeking and receiving adequate treatment and pain relief. Treatment should be a priority.
- Attempt to educate others. Explaining chronic pain and its impact on daily life to friends and family members can help reduce stigma. In some cases, judgment and negative stereotypes come from misinformation or lack of information.
- Let go of toxic relationships. If a friend or family member continues to have a negative attitude or beliefs about an individual’s chronic pain, it may be necessary to let go of that friendship or relationship. Being surrounded by supportive individuals is good for mental health.
- Avoid isolation. Communicating with others who experience chronic pain can provide validation and prevent loneliness. It can be helpful to talk to others who understand chronic pain and are unlikely to judge.
- Practice self-compassion. Dealing with stigma can create emotional pain. Acknowledging the emotional impact of stigma and developing self-compassion and self-love is essential.
- Seek help when needed. If stigma impacts an individual’s self-esteem or mental health, discussing it with a counselor or psychologist may be beneficial.
Additional source used to create this article: Psychology Today.