Somatic Pain, It Is Not Imaginary

I still get occasional bouts of somatic pain, but I was first diagnosed with it back in 2015. I thought I had some major illness, and I would leave this world, but it turns out it was from deep-seated depression.

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I went through many discussions with my doctors, and they kept telling me it was depression, and I refused to listen as I had never experienced pain with depression before. It turns out I was in denial. I had internalised my depressive illness so much it resulted in my body pointing out to me I needed help.

What is Somatic Pain?

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According to the Greeks, Soma means body, and in a nutshell, somatic pain is body pain. I had pain in all my limbs, right down to the bone; it was horrendous. Painkillers barely touched it, and I tried whatever the doctor offered. In the end, I went back to the doctors and asked for anti-depressants, but it took a year for the pain to ease.

When I searched the internet for somatic pain, it became clear there is no great understanding of it. So rather than quote a scientific paper stating that it is not physical pain, I will use my own experience to tell you how I have virtually removed it from my life. Not completely mind you, it seems once it is there, it stays in the background.

The Tablets I Took

As I said, I was given plenty of pain-killers to deal with it, but it didn’t really help. I had tried co-codamol, tramadol and naproxen. I was given amitriptyline for pain relief, but it actually helped me mentally, but unfortunately, it didn’t touch the pain.

I was then given nortriptyline and success, it took many months, but the pain began to ease. I also took citalopram and a mood stabiliser called Quetiapine; the whole concoction eventually removed the pain. Admittedly I couldn’t function very well, but I was no longer in pain.

It seems extreme, but I had to address the underlying cause, which was a deep depression, which took me a long time to accept that I had. You can read more about how this depression affected me here in my self-care article.

I also undertook occupational therapy to help address confidence issues and self-esteem. It’s strange, but because I experience bipolar when I’m hypo, confidence is not an issue, but when I’m depressed, it is a major problem.

If you get the chance to try occupational therapy, I suggest you try it. It was the best thing I have ever done.

The combination of heavy medication and therapy eased the pain.

I still get bouts of it, usually around my period when it is at its worst, but I’m hoping I’ve only got a couple more years of this left, as I’m approaching that age.

What Can You Do If You Have Somatic Pain?

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If you suffer somatic pain, are you depressed? You can check your symptoms from my depression symptom page. If you’re not depressed, are you holding onto any negativity? You may not be realising you are turning it on yourself. This is what I was doing, and I was also in denial.

Are painkillers not working? If you’re trying painkillers and have minimal effect speak to your doctor about Nortriptyline, and if you are depressed, you will also need to get anti-depressants. If you are seeking a non-medicated method, see further down this article.

Therapy is vital, but unfortunately, the waiting lists in the UK are very long. If you cannot wait and who can wait for months when you are in pain, there are various places you can pay for therapy.

You can check to see if there is a registered counsellor near you who also makes telephone or Zoom appointments during Covid. Use the BACP registrar for those who offer therapy.

There are online services, too; I have listed a few who you can check out; just for disclosure, I am an affiliate (AF) of one or two of them, but you are not charged extra if you do use their services. I earn a referral for introducing you to them.

  • Flow NeuroScience – A therapy for depression without medication (AF)
  • NuCalm – Another therapy without medication for stress and helping with sleep (AF)
  • Neals Yard Remedies – For aromatherapy, which can help to ease symptoms a little, better than nothing

I have used sound and aromatherapy, and they have helped me over the last year or so. I didn’t realise several years ago you have to take a holistic approach to mental health. I will address this in another article, but you need to discover what is causing the pain for the time being.

I can’t guarantee what worked for me will work for you, but my suggestions might be worth a shot if you have tried everything.

Peace & Blessings x

Lou Farrell

Welcome to the mental health blog of Lou Farrell. I am a writer and copywriter who pens all manner of articles relating to mental wellness and mental illness. I write about my own experiences and the knowledge I have gained over the years as someone who has bipolar disorder. I hope you enjoy the website :-)

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