Do you deal with a chronic pain condition? Maybe it’s related to arthritis, autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia, migraine, or some other type of nerve pain, like from an accident or injury.
Regardless of the cause, some types of chronic pain (especially nerve-related pain) can be difficult to relieve. As it turns out, research shows that one reason may be an elusive mind-body connection: spiritual and mental health both may relieve or worsen this type of stubborn chronic pain.
In fact, it’s thought that some chronic pain conditions (like fibromyalgia) could be caused by spiritual or mental imbalance! One study even shows that fibromyalgia could be the result of extreme trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When the mind and spirit are in pain, the body registers this in mysterious ways. While this is a new exploration in the world of science, traditional and Indigenous cultures have known and practiced medicine to treat this imbalance and PTSD (sometimes referred to as “soul loss”) for thousands of years— using ritual, herbs, and much more.
How is spiritual and mental health connected?
Being stressed, anxious, or depressed sometimes is a normal part of life. In the right doses, these feelings and adverse experiences are meant to help us change, grow, and become stronger— that’s right: they have spiritual purpose!
But too much— such as from PTSD, grief, oppressive life circumstances, or something else majorly traumatic— can overwhelm the mind and, by association, the body and spirit as well. We can feel like we are disconnected from meaning, purpose, or enjoyment in life. We can feel a loss of soul or spirit.
States like these can manifest as fatigue, disinterest in life, addictions, and, yes, even chronic pain issues. While things like pharmaceuticals, pain medications, and antidepressants have their role and place in health and are extremely valuable to some, they are limiting in some ways: they only heal the physical brain chemistry of mental health. Not the spiritual side.
How are spiritual and mental health connected to chronic pain?
When we are stressed, anxious, depressed, lonely, socially rejected, grieving, or even traumatized by something, the body takes note. Some research shows that this mental and spiritual pain is just as real as physical pain— in fact, the brain cannot differentiate between the two!
And because of this, people who deal with such extreme imbalances on the mental and spiritual plane could be more vulnerable to chronic pain conditions (especially if they experience anxiety), studies show. In fact, this emotional turbulence can even create a feedback loop, according to research, where the pain worsens the anxiety and depression— and then these feelings and spiritual states then worsen the pain.
That said, is it possible that healing the mental, emotional, or spiritual state heals the pain? The science is interesting. And for thousands of years, traditional healers have known the answers.
Remedies that support spiritual imbalance and chronic pain
Even now, mainstream medical professionals and scientists are starting to acknowledge that prescription pain killers and other chemical approaches just aren’t enough for some types of chronic pain. Chronic pain that could be from trauma, mental, or spiritual disturbance needs mental, spiritual, ritual, or natural healing!
Some methods that may help the source of chronic pain include:
Seeking mental health counseling or therapy. Yes, this could help chronic pain in the long run if anxiety and depression are helped.
Connect with your spirituality. This could be with a spiritual advisor, healer, or working through things on your own.
Create meaningful rituals in your life. Ancient healers used this tool to help with the spiritual imbalance and the pain that came from it.