Many think only of the direct costs of living with chronic pain, such as the cost of medicine or doctor visits. However, money is not the only thing that may cost a person in chronic pain. There are other indirect costs that can also have a great impact.
- Lost employment
A total of 13 percent of the total workforce experienced a loss in productive work time in a two-week period due to a pain condition. In the United States, lost work time from pain costs an estimated $61.2 billion per year. Beyond the dollar amount, missed work hours can also mean lost opportunities for promotions or being skipped over for better hours or work environments. For some employers, even the best work cannot make up for missed work time due to chronic pain. Coworkers may also be less than sympathetic.
- Lower self-esteem
Not feeling well can impact your ability to complete everyday tasks, which can lead to a feeling of inadequacy and lower self-esteem. Unfortunately, lower self-esteem has been associated with greater symptom severity in daily life, according to the Journal of Health Psychology.
A significant number of people who experience chronic pain also experience depression, according to the Clinical Journal of Pain. While the relationship between pain and depression is complex, it is not surprising. Chronic pain may limit everyday tasks as well as fun activities. These losses can be depressing even without the physical aspect of pain.
- Loss of goodwill with friends and family
If you are living with chronic pain, you have probably canceled social plans that have been in place for months. You may also have relied on family members to take you to appointments or to care for your children when you were having a bad day. While some understand your predicament, others may believe that you have more control on which days are good days than you actually do. Friends and family may begin to feel like they are being taken advantage of even when you cannot help the circumstances.
If you are living with or caring for someone with chronic pain, you may be familiar with the indirect costs that are associated. The hope is that by acknowledging both the direct and indirect costs of care, you will be more likely to reach out for support when you need it the most.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.