Mental Illness Means Physical Pain Too
In spite of what many people think, mental illness isn't just about "being sad" or hallucinating or feeling suicidal - mental illness is about physical pain too. In fact, one of the ways people get diagnosed with illnesses like depression is due to physical complaints (what doctors call somatic pain).
When you have a mental illness, not only your brain hurts, but your body does too.
Diagnosis of Mental Illness
Many people don't know the symptoms of a mental illness like depression, so they aren't aware they have it. For example, many people don't know that extreme irritation is a sign of depression, so they never think of seeing a doctor for it. Even severe sadness can be overlooked by many and people do not seek help for it.
Physical Pain and Mental Illness
But when people experience physical pain, they are more likely to see their doctor. People with a mental illness often experience:
- Abdominal distress (nausea, pain, etc.)
- Change in weight
- Cognitive symptoms (trouble thinking, remembering, etc.)
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
How Bad is the Physical Pain?
And when I say "fatigue," I don't mean needing coffee in the morning. When I say fatigue, I mean feeling tired down to your very marrow with an inability to get off the couch. When I say a "headache," I mean one that starts at the back of your skull and the squeezes your head all day long.
When I say physical pain, I mean physical pain. Not an annoyance. But pain. Debilitating, horrible pain.
Isn't that Just Medication Side Effects?
I'm not talking about people on medication. I'm talking about people with mental illnesses that have never even seen a doctor. The mental illness causes these symptoms and not "just" the medication as some people think.
(Yes, medication can cause these symptoms too, but often people attribute these symptoms incorrectly to medication, forgetting that the illness itself can cause them.)
Mental Illness is a Real Illness
This is just another way in which mental illness manifests itself in a physical way. When someone with depression complains about headaches, they aren't "whining" or "making it up" they are experiencing a well-known symptom of mental illness.
These physical symptoms are just another way mental illness can harm, or even ruin, your professional and personal life. Physical pain with mental illness is to be taken seriously. It's not just "in your head."
Tracy, N. (2011, September 2). Mental Illness Means Physical Pain Too, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, May 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2011/09/mental-illness-means-physical-pain-too
Author: Natasha Tracy
Your blog reminded me that it is my bipolar expressing the current depression I am experiencing. I thought I was doing OK and everything was under control but now I realise that my Bipolar lurks in the background waiting for an opportunity to pounce.
I'm so sorry to hear that you're experiencing that pain. If the pain is related to a psychological issue, then therapy may help. If it's not, I would recommend getting a referral to a specialist to look for a physical cause. Remember, some doctors write our pain off because we have bipolar, but not all do.
- Natasha Tracy
He saves those who are crushed in spirit... Don't lose hope, we can survive =) ...
I suffered for 30 years with, "depression, anxiety, hypochondria and more", but I just found out I have Celiac Disease. If just one! ONE g d doctor had run a blood test, i'd not be as sick as I am today!!!
I bet if everyone who has depressive symptoms got tested for celiacs (how many depressed people eat truckloads of gluten?), you'd see the connection between the two. One out of every 120 or so people have CD and most are unawares, so WHY are docs not testing? Because there is no money in celiacs, but there is in antidepressants. Celiac's malnutrition will manifest itself as mi, at least it did me.
A pill will simply cover up the real problem. I truly believe that mi is often (maybe not always) from nutritional deficiencies, but who takes the time to find out? Certainly not your doctor!!!
Challenge: Eat real food for one month and see how you feel. each meal, 1/4 plate meat, 3/4 veggies. Eat nothing that has been processed. One month; I double dog dare you :)
When depressed and pushed beyond my limit I tire easily and tend to get irritable. I also get a lot of tension headaches. Medication has helped some. It mellows me out. I get a lot of joint aches and pains too because when I'm depressed I sleep, ALOT. Being inactive like that causes my muscles to weaken from disuse so that when I do eventually get moving again I tend to ache all over. I used to be able to operate on a kind of automatic pilot from doing repetitious things but I find it harder to do that now, although some of that might be due to getting older or even medication in part. When I'm depressed it's much more difficult to think clearly and I really need to focus hard on what I'm doing, even if I've done it dozens of times before. I work with numbers a lot so if I make a mistake it can be rather costly. I have to double check and often triple check everything. I rely heavily on post-it-notes and to do list to remember important things. When I'm depressed I usually overeat but if I get myself into a really hopeless state of mind I don't wanna eat at all. I also have GAD and when it's bad I get terrible stomach aches and diareahha. Depression and anxiety severely upsets my circadian rhythm as does mania. A good nights sleep is so important to overall general health.
No doubt about it depression (& anxiety) can cause inordinate amounts of pain and suffering. Manic depression or psychotic depression even more so...
hear me out..
After a huge span of tine of increased manic behavior and out of character acts, I then had a span of 8 days of nothing but hallucinations- gustatory, olfactory, audio, visual, body sensations, absolutely everything blended and it felt like being attacked by demons, not CHEMICAL IMBALANCE.
But gotta say, the feeling of being around hundreds and hundreds of strangers who think they know who you are and hate you with joy is worse than some psychosis when you try to receive an education as you make friends but are unable to and are tormented with physical ailments as a result of the pain and those ailments you suffer from really make people laugh and make up stories as to their cause. (as they laugh with hatred about your suffering and mistakes, the actual root sings through the air into my bone marrow perhaps? regardless I care for you all and am sorry for all that has happened) But it was most likely a symptom of the methodical destroying force that is mental illness. finds who you are, what you hope for and tries to strip it off your soul.
truly, having the experience of people youve never met or a goodhearted woman you wish you could cook a dinner for.. look down at you while you carry some music to sing hope to them (despite your painful ordeal) is on the direct intersecting line between tragedy and comedy. like someone bound in a fortress of chains grabbing a beautiful rose from the last spark in the heart and trying to extend it through the spider web of torment, just have someone youre trying to give it to spit on it or mock how much of your blood is on the thorns on its stem. and then, let another rose grow and do it again! dang not red enough. sorry everyone, forgive me.
After time I found the only medication that is functional and proven to work is reading the bible, praying and finding relationship and peace in others who are listening to you WITH the hope of helping, not of other motives (just as you who love someone would lend a caring ear to someone lost in a maze). When anyone speaks about their conditions it is because they want help for them and others!! theyd even face their terrorizing illness by talking about it as if it were a puzzle missing a piece. I found the piece!
I understand its quite a common thing of our times to jokingly dis the bible and them who are truly given hope, new life and redemption through it, (I even did it for a short while) but I only am saying this for Im alive because the Actual truth that is not submissive to human reasoning and intellect saved me.
I was in deep depression, and I got into a serious head injury accident and out of miracles from God and working through prayers and wonderful people and professionals I have recovered fully and am better than I have ever been in my life. I have been cured of my illness! I had it my whole life, but now I have a new life. actually, after a lifetime of this, I Now have life. I should not have survived, I couldve been a vegetable or paralyzed, but I have experienced a true miracle and everyone saw it happen. Its nice when the truth is not based on an individual's perceptions, magical mind and bicep powers and ideas but when it's based on actual invincible truth. The truth of the bible is that however you see yourself, however others see you, the one who created all things loves you. it shocks me that it can be seen as an offending issue, but again, I am only saying this, only able to type because of faith, the truth and love of God and the love and support of others. I am healed of mental illness.. a terrible condemning thing to be branded with that has no cure.. and healed of it.
Amen! Love you all, my heart aches for those who suffer from these things and from their lasting effects on life. In Jesus Christ (a name that, even when said by people who hate the name as they are cursing, feel it has power), be freed.
We struggle not against our brothers and sisters, but against darknesses. What I always loved about the night was not the darkness, but how beautiful and lovingly it made the lights shine and how the darkness could do nothing but flee in defeat against one little light. in the most pitch black darkness, if there is a light, it makes it even brighter even for all to see from far away, so much brighter grows the light! Good game darknesses, but you lose.
That's a pretty extreme example of what I'm talking about. It does happen. It's different for each person.
And yes, the pain is very real. Thankfully you had a doctor who took you seriously and didn't just write you off because you are "crazy."
It's good you got to the bottom of it, because you're right, you need to deal with why it was there in the first place.
"Somatic pain = real, not made up!!!"
Absolutely. Thanks for sharing your story.
I've had all sorts of stuff over the last 6 years especially.
THis year I even ended up in hospital with severe belly ache. The surgeon suspected appendicitis. However, I was completely checked up including CT-scan and all, and no physical reason was found.
The pain was very real, though! Even the strongest pain killers the hospital had didn't take away the pain.
I felt like a whiner, but thankfully my GP took me very seriously, bless him!
I was shocked to find out that somatic pain can be thát bad! I was on special pain killers for a long time. After a while I weaned myself off of them (wah, not nice!!!) Now the pain is not dibilitating anymore, I can live with it and work on the reason why it turned up in the first place.
So thanks for bringing this up.
Somatic pain = real, not made up!!!
Thank-you. I agree.
This message is so important in combating mental health stigma. Thanks for saying it so clearly and so well.
That's not why they invented Cymbalta, that's how they _marketed_ Cymbalta. That drug works like other drugs in its class.
In fact, I think all the drugs work on both physical and mental pain. Basically, once you make the depression go away, the physical pain goes with it. Nothing special about Cymbalta there.
(Their ad irks me however, as they make it sound somehow special. It isn't.)
Yes, the reminder is a good thing. We do need to be reminded we're not defective. Just sick. We all forget that sometimes.