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“I can’t Take It Anymore!”: How to Calm the Mental Pain and Live Happily?

05.08.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“I don’t even know how to describe what I felt. Well, what could I say? “Something is lousy in my mood”. But this was not even close to the reality. It’s like a funnel inside. Huge, constantly humming, sucking in everything that happens around. Any joy is sucked in and leaves only pain and emptiness. Such a pain that I want to scratch my chest and grab it, squeeze it, not to be hurt. There are thoughts about only one thing, about this damn pain. And about when will it all end? How to drown out such a mental pain at least a little? And there is one desire. I wait only the moment when in the evening I can go to bed and sleep. Sleep as the only salvation. Probably, I still haven’t really gotten around”.

– Marina, 34

Mental pain can cause very intense suffering. Unfortunately, relatives and friends may not always support us, especially if the reason, to their taste, is insignificant or not obvious. Instead of sympathy, you can run into accusations in the style of “you are talking nonsense, children in Africa are starving, you have nothing to worry about”. But it hurts. And accusations most often only aggravate the pain. How to escape from this trap? How to relieve pain and learn to feel joy and happiness again? This is today’s article.


1. Why is mental pain harmful?

2. Why does it hurt so much?

3. How to survive mental pain?

When does mental pain become a habit?

4. How to deal with severe mental pain?

Why is mental pain harmful?

Why is mental pain harmful

Continuous anxiety can cause discomfort and reduce the quality of life. But there are some other, not always obvious, consequences of prolonged mental pain.

1. Pain may become habitual

The way we respond to circumstances can turn into a familiar pattern of behavior. We can habitually give up on failures, automatically engage in self-flagellation, by inertia worry on the slightest occasion. In fact, the brain gets used to such reactions and builds new neural connections to make it easier to worry and grieve. [1] And the more often and longer we worry and suffer, the easier it is given to us in the future.

“I recently discovered that I’m used to react like this, dropping my hands and worrying, to almost any situation. A small thing happened, and I was immediately discouraged. Although the situation itself is not worth a damn. Well, a medical admission to pool is needed. It is necessary to do a fluorography and make an appointment with the therapist. That’s all. And I go like that – oh, again I won’t get into the pool, what kind of crap is this, everything is bad again. I sit and suffer. And then I have become so angry. I got up, and did everything. I spent 1.5 hours in two passes. This helped me put my brains straight in place. I began to look after myself and realized how quickly I give up, because I got used to give up quickly. And I sit and worry that I can’t do anything. Of course it doesn’t work, because I’m not even really trying it”.

– Olga, 29

2. Worries can lead to physical illnesses

Long-term stress – and our strong mental pain is stress – negatively affects the immune system, weakens it. [2] As a result, the body copes with diseases worse, increases susceptibility to infections, and the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

3. Worries can lead to depression and similar illnesses

Prolonged mental pain in both girls and boys can lead to the development of depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder. [3] It is already difficult to cope with these diseases on our own, and more often psychological and medical support is required.

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Why does it hurt so much?

Ways to relieve pain largely depend on the cause. Therefore, first of all, you need to understand why it hurts you? What or who leads to the fact that you are so hurt? We will name a few of the main reasons that lead to worries and stress.

Causes of mental pain

All reasons can be divided into 2 groups:

1st group – behavior disorders and mental illnesses. These include fears, phobias, anxiety or depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depersonalization, panic attacks and other diseases. Solving these problems may require behavioral therapy, medical support, and a psychiatrist’s consultation. Be attentive to yourself and do not miss a serious illness.

“I don’t know why I didn’t seek for help. I understood that something was wrong with me. Well, it can’t be like that, a person shouldn’t feel bad every day all the year round. But it all seemed to me that I invented it all, because a person can’t feel bad all the time… I was afraid that I would come to therapist, but he would tell me: “Why did you come? Go home, simulator, you have nothing”. And I was just staying at home. I went to therapist when I was already completely ill, when I almost stopped sleeping. And it turned out that I’m not a simulator. I was prescribed a treatment. And it turned out that there are so many joyful and diverse emotions in life. But I just didn’t remember anything…”

– Polina, 31

2nd group – psychological reasons, conflicts between the desired and reality, grief from loss. These include separation and divorce, the death of loved ones, any problems in the family, difficulties with work and finance, low self-esteem and problems with self-perception, mental pain from betrayal and much more. You can cope with conditions from this group without drugs on your own or with the support of a psychologist.

In fact, there are no right and objectively weighty reasons for worrying – any events or problems can lead to mental pain. And you should not feel guilty for worrying or for the fact that your emotions are too strong by someone’s standards.

“It’s very difficult for me now. In my case, mental pain was mixed with offence. And also friends… I will clarify, ex-friends – were telling me all the time: “Forget about it, you’re worried about nonsense, everything was immediately clear, it was your fault, you should have noticed it before”. And I finally noticed. But there were no signs. And love didn’t block my eyes. And she did not have on her forehead a sign: “I’m cheating on my present boyfriend with my exes”. Not everything can be predicted. But it still hurts. They betrayed me twice – my ex-girlfriend and ex-friends”.

– Oleg, 25

Signs of mental pain

Mental pain is often accompanied by a change in mood:

  • sadness, longing;
  • excitement, anxiety;
  • apathy, depression;
  • feeling of loneliness;
  • lack of pleasant, positive emotions.

Also often mental pain gives quite real physical feelings:

  • pressure or pain in the head or chest;
  • burning sensation in the chest, in the throat;
  • a feeling of a stone in the chest, heaviness on the shoulders, as if carrying a heavy load;
  • pain or discomfort in the abdomen;
  • vomitting, dizziness, palpitations.

Mental pain or heartache can be very severe and cause real suffering. Your sensations are not an illusion or a twist. This is reality. But you can change this reality, you can help yourself and reduce the intensity of pain.

How to survive mental pain?

How to survive mental pain

Is there any way to calm the mental pain forever? Of course there is not. It is impossible to completely avoid mental pain. We will inevitably encounter situations that will cause us discomfort. We are alive and experience emotions that cannot be simply turned on and off. Well, this is not necessary. Emotions, including negative ones, help us adapt to difficult situations and accept the inevitable [4], and facing difficulties can help us become better and stronger.

“A very relevant topic! Not so long ago I had a major change in my life, and I cried for a couple of days, and then it became so easy, as simple as it had never been. People try to feel sorry for me, they say: “Poor thing, how did you get rid of the mental pain? Was it probably so hard for you? ” But on the contrary, I feel strength and energy, a gratitude to life”.

– Yana, 22

How is this possible? Studies show that many people who experience difficult situations — losses, military operations, injuries and illnesses, accidents or dangerous situations in which they accidentally survive – experience post-traumatic growth [5]:

  • become stronger and more stable in the psychological sense;
  • increase self-confidence;
  • begin to appreciate what they have;
  • improve relationships with family members;
  • begin to notice prospects for their development.

There is only one “but” – this growth and development does not occur if we are stuck in negative emotions, if we believe that we cannot cope with the situation. Worries begin to accompany us constantly, absorb, occupy our whole life. Therefore, it is so important to be able to live through the pain correctly and not to turn it into a habit.

When does mental pain become a habit?

How to understand that worries get out of control and begin to turn into a habit? There are 5 signs that may alert you:

  1. It is difficult for you to distract, switch to another thing.
  2. Your emotional worries last too long according to your own feelings.
  3. You practically do not feel joy in life.
  4. It seems to you that this will never end.
  5. It seems to you that you will not be able to cope with this pain yourself.

If you observe 2 or more symptoms in yourself, please do not wait for the pain to pass by itself. Help it calm down.

How to deal with severe mental pain?

How to deal with severe mental pain

If you can change the situation that causes suffering, then you need to start with this. For example, if you have conflicts at work, plan a job shift or try to find a common language with colleagues. If you are concerned about your self-esteem – pay attention to its growth. And so on. However, there are situations that we cannot change: divorce, loss of a loved one, betrayal. In this case, you should pay attention to your worries. There are several ways to reduce their intensity and relieve pain.

1. You are much stronger than you think

Confidence that you must feel bad for long must form a habit of negatively evaluating events and prolonging experiences. In fact, the psyche is more like an elastic ribbon than a fragile vase – it can bend, but then return to its previous state. Believe that you will cope with this situation, even if now such a prospect seems unrealistic.

2. Find positive points in what happened

It is an important condition for post-traumatic growth. [6] In any situation, you can see what makes you stronger or better. This does not mean that you should enjoy your grief. What happened is painful. But this situation can help you better understand yourself. For example, by miraculously avoiding death, you can learn to value every day. After breaking up with a loved one you can learn to direct forces to your own development. Avoiding an attack makes you sure of your own strength and stamina. And so on.

3. Be active, do not get isolated

No need to avoid communication and close yourself at home. Mental pain from love or loneliness passes away better if you actively interact and communicate with other people. Any group physical activity [7], volunteering and help to other people will do.

4. Do something and don’t worry

Studies show that focusing on one’s worries worsens a person’s well-being and deprives him/her of vitality. [8] Conversely, shifting the focus of attention to actions helps alleviate mental pain. You should not completely forget about your feelings, but it’s better not to think why is it happening with you, rather what to do next.

“I had just a case when, instead of saying to myself “how strong and firm I am, well done that I did not get confused and have managed, and only thanks to myself I ran away from the rapist” I slipped into repeating: “I am poor and unhappy, how did it happen with me”. Re-evaluation helped a lot cope with the situation and live on without continuing fear”.

– Alena, 39

5. Take advantage of special assistance programs

Pay attention to programs that help you survive the loss and deal with heartache. These may be assistance groups in your city or special programs for survivors of loss. The choice will depend on the reason for your worries.

For example, if you are looking for ways to deal with heartache after breaking up, then you can use the 7Spsy behavior modification technique program, designed to help people who have experienced a divorce or separation. Also in the relevant article there are several more ways that will help you survive separation and reduce heartache.

If you are living through the death of a loved one, then a program is suitable for you that gently helps survive this difficult situation and learn how to live again.

Let’s solve the problems of apathy and stress

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Both programs are designed to help you cope with the loss, reduce mental pain and avoid turning experience into a habit. And most importantly – you can find the strength in yourself for post-traumatic growth and live on a full life.

Remember, not always a person can cope with mental pain individually. Emotions can prevail over the mind, plunging into suffering. Therefore, if you feel that you can’t cope on your own or don’t know how to release mental pain, take care of yourself and seek help.


  1. Stradanie — eto privychka (Iu. I. Aleksandrov, «Osnovy psikhofiziologii»).
  2. Stress oslabliaet immunitet (https://www.apa.org/research/action/immune).
  3. Stress mozhet privodit k depressiiam, trevozhnym i drugim rasstroistvam (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28616666).
  4. Pechal pomogaet smiritsia s poterei i umenshaet emotsionalnoe vygoranie (https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/circ.138.suppl_2.179).
  5. Pro postravmaticheskii rost (https://ptgi.uncc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2013/01/PTG-Conceptual-Foundtns.pdf).
  6. Usloviia formirovaniia postravmaticheskogo rosta (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15325020902724271).
  7. Fizicheskaia aktivnost i obshchenie uluchshaet psikhicheskoe zdorove (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1755296616300321).
  8. Sosredotochennost na perezhivaniiakh, a ne na deistviiakh, ukhudshaet samochuvstvie (https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2017-44262-001).