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Unfortunately, when someone is recovering from an injury or dealing with chronic pain, he or she can experience negative emotional side effects. One of our areas of focus here at ACRM is our geriatric rehabilitation research. This includes researching the side effects your patients will experience while recovering from and dealing with pain.

Whether they’re recovering from a brain surgery, a hip replacement, or something else, your patients are going to deal with pain. What’s not always addressed is the emotional pain they’ll have to combat as well. In the U.S., one in five adults experience a mental illness, and 6.9 percent of adults live with major depression. Chances are high that you’ll have patients who experience or are prone to experiencing a mental illness; their pain can exacerbate their preexisting conditions or introduce new ones. Our blog today will address what emotional side effects your patients could experience while recovering and what some coping mechanisms are.

What They May Experience

Long-term pain puts an extreme amount of stress on the brain and can ultimately affect your patient’s mood, memory, and concentration as a result. He or she could experience job loss, drastic changes in finances, and alterations in home life. All of this can lead to loneliness, depression, anxiety, and loss of confidence. People often speak about feeling guilty, grumpy, isolated, or helpless, among many other emotions. It’s important to address the emotions your patients are feeling, reduce the stigma associated with them, and recommend your patients get help. By doing so, their geriatric rehabilitation will be smoother, easier, and faster.

How To Cope

There are a variety of techniques that will work for different patients and different recoveries. For example, being active and going outdoors is great for lifting spirits, but may not be immediately possible for someone dealing with cancer fatigue. All of these suggested ways for dealing with the emotional side effects of pain should be tailored to the needs and abilities of your patients.

Meet With A Therapist

Rehabilitation medicine is vital as your patients are recovering, but therapy shouldn’t be neglected when necessary. Your patient’s normal way of coping may not be enough anymore, and he or she will likely be experiencing emotions that are new and sometimes overwhelming. Verbalizing feelings can help them to improve negative thinking and meeting with a therapist can also help them realize they’re not alone.


If your patients exercise regularly, they’ll enjoy reduced stress, improved sleep, increased energy, and many other benefits. You’ll want to make sure they’re doing exercises at an intensity and frequency that won’t injure them further, but exercise can show them that their bodies are still capable and strong. When combined with all the other mental benefits, exercise can’t be beat.

Do Arts And Crafts

If your patients are more limited in what they can do, then exercise may not be the best option. Recommend pursuing a hobby like drawing, writing, sewing, painting, scrapbooking, or another project-oriented craft. This will give your patient something productive to do. He or she will be creating something enjoyable that will make him or her feel accomplished. Rehabilitation researchers have studied the effects of painting on the brain, and results indicate that it’s a good way to stimulate someone’s brain during recovery.

Take Medicine

Many different drugs are often used to treat mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Taking medicine is sometimes a good option for someone struggling to get in control of their feelings during rehabilitation. Recommend medication cautiously, however, because most patients will already be using rehabilitation medicine and there are many other ways to address the emotional side effects of pain without resorting to medicine. However, antidepressants can be extremely useful in fighting these effects.

Whether it’s from hip replacements, Alzheimer’s disease, brain surgery, or something else, your patient may experience negative emotional side effects. When it comes to treating your patients, rehabilitation research is key to ensuring they have the tools they need to succeed. When you work with ACRM, you can participate in medical networking, share your knowledge, and meet fellow rehabilitation researchers. Our goal is to improve rehabilitation research so that these people don’t have to see their quality of life decrease. See why you should work with us, and join ACRM today!