Volumes of research validate the need to include behavior health providers in the management of chronic pain. Studies have shown that patients with untreated mental health diagnosis are twice as likely to be on narcotics three years after an acute injury,making the behavior health component an integral part of any chronic pain treatment plan. Behavioral health providers are especially qualified to treat the most common mental health condition; depression. The link between pain and depression is well established. Depression can cause pain — and pain can cause depression. Sometimes pain and depression create a vicious cycle in which pain worsens symptoms of depression, and then the resulting depression worsens feelings of pain.
Pain slows recovery from depression, and depression makes pain more difficult to treat; for example, it may cause patients to drop out of pain rehabilitation programs. Depression leads to isolation and isolation leads to further depression. In another cycle, pain causes fear of movement, and then immobility creates further pain. By treating depression, pain often fades away, and likewise when pain goes away, so does much of the suffering that causes depression.
Group therapy has many benefits for patients experiencing chronic pain. The group can teach individuals skills and techniques that allow them to become active and involved in their life again. Skills for coping with sadness, anxiety or anger, as well as methods for communicating and problem solving techniques are taught in group.