I'm a parnter with a person in chronic pain and I have chronic pain issues and it is a challenge. I think my partner copes better but the risk of depression in significantly increased even in illnesses without pain. I imagine it's quite common in people with severe pain.
My guess is that if he is able to get a significant reduction in pain through the surgery his outlook and mood will improve. He may want to try antidepressants that can effect both mood and pain and courses like mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) that seek the calm the system down can help as well.
I wonder if you know of any of his old friends who might be able to give you some insights into his mood pre-accident.
As a person that lives with pain daily, I have to say yes to your question. Chronic pain has a way of sucking everything out of you and leaving a void where a person once was. At 35, your boyfriend is still quite young and his limited mobility will cause sadness/depression/anger.
Chronic pain may not be intense all the time but it is always there. It interferes with your ability to rest/sleep, it affects your ability to think like when you are very tired, sometimes you feel like you are in a fog, sometimes you can't remember simple words you use daily and there are other thousands of other things that trigger pain. Now imagine you never know if only one of the above or if all of them will affect you. Imagine the touch of a loved one causing pain or the sound of their laughter.
Something that might help you understand is the Spoon Theory. It was written by a woman with Fibromyalgia to explain it to her friends. Here is a link to her website; http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/
Is it possible for your boyfriend to have knee replacement surgery?
Chronic pain is exhausting, the only thing you can do is go minute by minute. Those around someone with chronic pain get tired of hearing about it, even if its the heavy breathing because you are just trying to maintain your composure. Chronic pain is made worse when people interpret chronic pain as attention seeking or drug seeking. How can one not have a crappy mood. The "spoon theory" as previously mentioned accurately describes chronic pain and the fatigue associated with it. Pain is under treated. Doctors are fearful of investigation and so many physicians do not even treat pain, leaving patients on their own. I have some stockpiled Darvocet acquired just prior to it being removed from the market, because I cannot live and work without having my pain treated. When I run out of that, my intention is to go to alcohol. These are not safe options, but they are the only options left for people. Darvocet does not relieve my pain, but it takes the edge off, making it easier to deal with. I pray every day that physicians who refuse to treat pain and people who refuse to understand real pain, acquire a disease that is both painful and life long, such as rheumatoid arthritis. I hope they suffer as they are causing others to suffer.
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