Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that involves damage to the peripheral nervous system. Our peripheral nerves carry signals to and from our central nervous system. Thus malfunctioning of these nerves causes disruption and affects how the body reacts to reflexes and other stimuli like pain and temperature. Pondering about life pre-diagnosis and the tag of “patient” may lead to an increase in your stress levels. In addition, research shows a bidirectional relationship between chronic pain and mental health disorders due to a shared neural mechanism. Likewise, patients with chronic pain are often at an increased risk of anxiety, depression and substance abuse disorder. For instance, about 2-40% of the population suffer from chronic pain and 17-29% suffer from mental health issues. Hence, managing your mental health becomes as important as your physical health and the related symptoms. Here, according to the sources listed below, are a few ways to cope:
Planning your day
Small steps, such as planning your day and setting aside adequate time for each task, can go a long way. Additionally, it helps to make sure you stay active without exerting yourself too much.
Accepting yourself and condition is the first step towards your recovery. Living with chronic pain can pose a lot of challenges in your daily life. Instead of pondering on questions like, “Why me?” and your life before your diagnosis, consider accepting the negative aspects of your conditions and finding ways to help you cope with and ease your symptoms.
The positive aspect
When going through a condition that involves chronic pain, finding the positive side of things can often be challenging. If your neuropathy is a result of an underlying condition, it might be treatable. In other cases, adopting a healthier lifestyle and taking small, careful steps can help you lead a balanced life.
Getting out of the house
Instead of fixating on the pain, getting out of the house and making outdoor plans with your friends can help you change your mindset. Above all, wanting to isolate yourself may feel like a comfortable choice but distracting yourself can help you ease the discomfort you are going through.
Consult your physician to develop an exercise routine for yourself. It helps increase blood flow, hence improving your mood and combating pain. Hence, physical fitness plays an important role in your physical and mental health.
Asking for help
Additionally, insomnia and depression can be side effects of peripheral neuropathy. Consider asking for help from counselors and therapists who can suggest methods to make your symptoms more comfortable to live with.
Asking for support
Conversations with support group peers might help you learn things that have helped people cope with their symptoms and how they worked for them. In contrast, it’s understandable that not everyone will find support groups comfortable, but they can be a great place to get to know people with similar experiences.
Preparing for challenges
Little steps can go a long way in preparing for the challenges you may face with your condition. Wearing shoes and protecting yourself while walking and installing handles in your bathrooms for extra grip can help prevent avoidable accidents. Lastly: always check your bath temperature using your elbow before getting in and do not sit in one position for a long period of time.
We understand that peripheral neuropathy can be difficult and frustrating to live with. However, consult your healthcare provider and physicians to find the best ways to help you relieve your pain.
- “Managing & Coping with Neuropathy”. The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy
- “Chronic Pain and Mental Health Disorders”. Mayo Clinic Proceedings
- “Peripheral Neuropathy: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments”. Healthline