Are Depression and Anxiety Making Your Pelvic Pain Worse?
When it comes to chronic pain, pelvic pain is one of the least visible, least talked about and least understood conditions out there. Unfortunately, since the source of pelvic pain can be difficult to diagnose, many sufferers are made to feel like their pain is all in their heads. Not only is this an inaccurate and unfair assessment of a patient’s experience — downplaying the emotional causes of pelvic pain may only further exacerbate their symptoms.
As New York’s pelvic pain specialists, we understand that pelvic pain is incredibly nuanced. While pelvic pain is often caused by physical factors, psychological factors, such as depression and anxiety, can also play a significant role. That does not mean that pelvic pain symptoms are all in your head; your experience is real and working with a pelvic pain doctor can help you find relief. But there may be more to your pain than can be seen with the naked eye.
Have you been suffering from pelvic pain and struggling to get answers? Have you ever asked yourself if stress or depression can cause pelvic pain, or if anxiety makes pelvic pain worse? In this post, we’ll cover:
The psychological causes of pelvic pain The mind-body link between stress and chronic pain How depression, anxiety or stress may worsen your pelvic pain symptoms How to get the right treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction pain
What Came First: The Stress or the Pain?
The causes of pelvic pain are multifactorial and diverse — as are pelvic pain symptoms — and no one person’s experience of pelvic pain is the same as another’s. For some patients, the source of pelvic pain is physical, such as an anatomical variation or injury. For others, the cause may be less obvious, rooted deeply in emotional distress, anxiety or a history of sexual abuse. These psychological causes of pelvic pain are no less real than physical causes, but they may be harder to diagnose and treat.
Furthermore, pelvic floor dysfunction pain, no matter its cause, can lead to emotional distress and depression. Living with chronic pain and discomfort can disrupt your life, affect your relationships and inhibit your ability to do the things you love. The pain becomes first and foremost in your mind, making it impossible to focus on anything else. That’s why many pelvic pain patients get caught in a pain-stress cycle that makes it difficult to determine whether their stress is causing their pelvic pain or vice versa.
Understanding the Mind-Body Connection in Pelvic Pain
At Pelvic Pain Doc, we take a holistic approach to treating pelvic pain. To appropriately understand, diagnose and treat a patient, we need to look at the whole picture, including their emotional history and psychological well being, as well as their physical symptoms. The link between the mind and body is inextricable, and oftentimes our emotional states can manifest as pain in the body without our even realizing it.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say we have a patient who has experienced an injury to their pelvic floor from years of long-distance running. Even if this patient makes a full recovery, their mind may still create the experience of pain whenever they try to run again in the future. That’s because our brains develop new neural pathways in response to pain or injury, and in order to break the pain cycle, we need to uncover our pain triggers and retrain our brains to understand that we are safe.
How to Treat Emotional Causes of Pelvic Pain
Sadly, this is one of the most common stories we hear from our patients: they’ve been living with chronic pelvic pain for years, they’re stressed out and depressed because of their symptoms, and no one can figure out what’s causing their pain, which only makes their symptoms worse. It’s an endless loop that can be incredibly difficult to overcome.
If this sounds like you, we want you to know that you don’t have to accept this painful cycle as a way of life. By working with a pelvic pain specialist who understands the emotional side of pain, you can identify the underlying causes of your symptoms and get treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction pain.
Through a combination of physical and psychological therapies, you can learn to understand and work through the emotional roots of your pelvic pain and get back to living your life to the fullest.
The causes of pelvic pain are multifactorial, comprising both physical and psychological factors. The mind can play a major role in the development and experience of chronic pain, even in the absence of pain triggers. The emotional causes of pelvic pain can be treated through a combination of physical and psychological therapies.
If you think you might be experiencing pelvic pain caused by depression or anxiety, or if your pelvic pain is creating feelings of emotional distress, contact Pelvic Pain Doc for a consultation today.