A good friend pointed out, after my last post on the importance of physical pain scale accuracy, that we lack decent ways to communicate our mental health pain scale.
Exactly like physical health, mental health pain is more about the level of distress it’s causing us than the injury itself. The reason we treat pain isn’t because it hurts. It’s because it’s distressing to us.
The brain doesn’t differentiate between physical pain and mental pain. In fact, this is a big reason why they try to get chronic pain patients to tackle existing mental health problems (whether they’re caused by the chronic health conditions or not). Central nervous system sensitisation can make us more sensitive to perceiving pain. Right now, we believe that chronic, severe pain doesn’t actually make us more tolerant to pain. It makes us less tolerant, and oversensitive to it.
You can imagine how well that goes…
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