When the diagnosis is made, there are a number of treatments that mental health providers bring to the management of those with chronic pain. One option is psychiatric medications to address the presenting problem, such as anxiety or depression. Some antidepressants also have independent effects on pain and are effective analgesics for chronic pain disorders, like fibromyalgia. These include medications that increase serotonin and norepinephrine in the CNS.
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Other interventions are available in addition to, or instead of, medications. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a therapy that addresses cognitive patterns, such as preoccupation with pain or negative thoughts about the illness. The patterns can be addressed with CBT, and new approaches can be learned to improve coping skills and decrease focus on the illness.
Other interventions include teaching techniques to lessen other issues. Stress management, relaxation techniques and biofeedback have proved useful.
“Evidence-based studies reveal that a multidisciplinary approach to the management of chronic pain yields the best outcome,” says Dr. Mufson. “This works for both reduction of pain and improvement in social and work function.”
Kurt Ullman is a freelance writer based in Indiana.
- Taylor P, Manger B, Alvaro-Gracia J, et al. Patient perceptions concerning pain management in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. J Int Med Res. 2010;38:1213–1224.
- Borenstein D, Altman R, Bello A, et al. Report of the American College of Rheumatology Pain Management Task Force. Arthritis Care Res. 2010;62:590–599.