Chronic Pain, Depression, and COVID-19

The disruption that COVID-19 has brought to our lives seems unreal. While communities across the country have been supportive of social distancing, and limiting their exposure to others, it does not mean it has been easy. Or fun. We’ve had to restrict our movements, our interactions with others, and have had to be hyper-vigilant about our movements. After months of practicing social distancing, the isolation has begun to take effect on the psyche of many Americans. But what about those Americans who’ve had to isolate before the pandemic hit? How are they doing with the current state of things?

People who suffer from chronic pain are used to having to limit their excursions and to remain distant from others. Trying not to trigger a pain flair up, chronic pain patients have had to learn how to structure their daily lives with restricted movement and limited exposure. Chronic pain patients are also more susceptible to depression because of the pain and the isolation. So what happens to them in a pandemic? Chronic pain patients are at a higher risk for getting sick (whether its the flu or coronavirus).

Chronic pain already heightens your body’s anxiety and depression, although regenerative medicine can help. The pandemic has triggered a mental health crisis. Chronic pain patients need to be weary of their daily actions to avoid falling into a depression that can threaten their wellbeing. Creating a structured routine can help chronic pain patients combat a dangerous sinking into depression. This daily structure can actually provide a “grounding” feeling for people to not lose themselves in the fog. Patients can create daily, achievable goals, and also “schedule rewards” for themselves when they’ve completed their goals. But we have to remember everyone’s movements are restricted. Patients can start by twenty minutes of stretching and easy yoga. This gets the blood pumping and the serotonin flowing. This can be followed by some journaling or reading. And believe it or not, you need to incorporate some “self care.” Take a hot bath with salts and oils to stimulate your senses and destress your body. Loneliness can be incredibly devastating. It’s crucial for patients to reach out. Even if its virtual, reach out to your friends and family. Send texts, get on Pinterest, and write emails. You should also prioritize your sleep. Indulge with lavender oil to help you fall asleep. Or even supplements like Valerian root or Melatonin. While you may be adding vitamins and essentials oils, it’s also incredibly important to remember to keep taking your medication as prescribed. Your medication regimen should not be ignored.

The type of goals you set up for yourself are incredibly important too. They should be realistic and attainable. If you’ve never spoken another language, you shouldn’t think that you can master the German language in two weeks. You want to set yourself up to succeed and emotionally survive the new COVID world.