In our society, poor mental health is considered as one of the biggest causes of disability, poor quality of life, and reduced productivity. Poor mental health can come in many forms, including negative mood, anxiety, depression, social isolation, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Chronic pain (pain which has lasted more than three months) is often interlinked with symptoms of poor mental health. Pain can interfere with your daily life (both work and social) and can take a toll on your self-esteem and sometimes make you feel depressed, anxious or frustrated. Depression and chronic pain also share some of the same brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, and nerve pathways, which act as messengers between different parts of the brain and nervous system. This connection may explain why people with chronic pain are three times more likely to develop mental health issues.
There is plenty of clinical evidence showing that exercise is beneficial for mental health, it reduces anxiety, depression, and negative mood and also improves self-esteem and cognitive functioning. There are a few proposed mechanisms by which this happens. One such idea is that aerobic exercise like swimming, jogging and cycling, helps increase blood flow to the brain and changes the way the body reacts to stress. Exercise also releases the same kind of chemicals that antidepressant medications are thought to release.
We also know that exercise is one of the best ways to improve the symptoms of chronic pain, but people who suffer chronic pain are often reluctant to exercise due to a fear of making their symptoms worse. For people who suffer from poor mental health due to chronic pain, this poses a problem. They are often told exercise will help their mental health but are unable to do so for fear of worsening their chronic pain. This is where physical therapy such as osteopathy can help. In most instances, with the correct advice and guidance, it is possible to exercise with chronic pain - and it really does help. For many individuals suffering with mental health problems, getting help with their pain condition can be beneficial for their mental health too.