Chronic and acute pain aren’t just physically and psychologically detrimental. Dealing with pain regularly can have serious negative consequences on a person’s social life as well. This is a problem considering the fact that when a person is experiencing pain, that is when they tend to need the most support from their social circles. There are five notable ways that pain reduces a person’s way of maintaining a social life.
Perhaps the most obvious way chronic pain interferes with a person’s ability to engage in social activities is the sufferer withdrawing from interactions. This means they miss out on social interactions that could be beneficial to the person’s mental health as it could have distracted them. It can also make a person act more withdrawn for fear of being judged for their pain.
Constant pain detracts from a person’s ability to be empathetic or sympathetic to others. It is difficult to feel for others when the pain constantly attracts their attention toward their own situation. It is also difficult to self-regulate when pain constantly keeps some of a person’s attention.
Another obvious problem with chronic pain is that it causes a person to constantly see things negatively, causing people to experience negative moods. People tend to avoid friends and family who are constantly unhappy or have a negative mood.
As a person becomes more withdrawn, they begin to lose their friends, causing a loss of their own self-identity. Essentially, they start to feel defined by their pain instead of shared experiences with others.
These problems culminate in an inability to connect with other people. A person who is in constant pain will tend to focus on things that differentiate between them and others, which can result in depression and loss of self-respect.
For those suffering from chronic pain, it is important to work to keep those social interactions to minimize other problems, especially emotional problems. Things like group therapy can help because there is something that all participants have in common. While you don’t want to be defined by pain, it can help to connect with people who are experiencing a similar problem as it will take away some of the uncertainty or other negative social implications.
For more details, check out The Social Consequences of Chronic Pain.