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Inflammatory diseases that lead to chronic pain can significantly impact the mental well-being of those afflicted by them. In my view, there is a noticeable absence of open discourse surrounding chronic pain both at the societal level and within the academic realm.

During my psychology studies, I encountered only one professor who addressed clients grappling with chronic pain and its potential repercussions on their mental health. He was also the sole individual who included research on chronic pain and its intersection with mental health on his recommended reading lists.

Consider fibromyalgia, for instance, one of the most prevalent chronic pain disorders. Roughly 12,000 Icelanders live with fibromyalgia at any given time, and globally, 3-6% of the population suffers from it. A significant majority of those affected are women, comprising 75-90%. This condition affects various tissues in the body, including muscle and nerve tissue.

Fibromyalgia can cause individuals to endure pain in their muscles and even on the skin's surface. Moreover, individuals may grapple with profound fatigue, gastrointestinal discomfort, sensations of coldness, peripheral limb and joint pain, memory impairment, diminished concentration, and even depression. Sensory sensitivity can also manifest, resulting in a lower threshold for stimuli such as brightness or noise compared to others.

It's essential to acknowledge that the array of symptoms can vary among individuals with fibromyalgia, resulting in diverse experiences with the condition. Additionally, many other inflammatory or neurological diseases entail chronic pain, with fibromyalgia serving as just one example.

Long-term stress can potentially underlie both inflammatory and neurological diseases. It is imperative for individuals with fibromyalgia to minimize or manage stress as effectively as possible. Dysfunction in the nervous system is considered one of the root causes of fibromyalgia, and the nervous system closely interacts with the brain regions responsible for stress responses.

I fervently hope that fostering an open dialogue and disseminating more widespread knowledge will raise awareness, particularly among those facing substantial stress. Stress can exacerbate inflammation, leading to bodily pain. Individuals experiencing excessive stress should be vigilant if they notice the onset of pain in their bodies. Taking a step back and actively mitigating stress can have profound effects on our overall health and well-being.

Lastly, it's worth highlighting the challenge that individuals enduring chronic pain often encounter when seeking psychologists well-versed in this domain. This underscores the importance of future psychologists being educated about the intricate connection between chronic pain and mental health. Such awareness is a fundamental necessity.

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