Book review - Beating the Blues

This successful book, co-authored by APMA member Jillian Ball, along with Susan Tanner, has sold more than 150,000 copies.

Beating the Blues has been republished after having been revised and updated, so it is a great time to reread it to tweak cognitive life skills, or to read it for the first time to gain essential new skills.

The concepts in Beating the Blues are based on cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness, both of which are fundamental pain-management skills taught at hospital pain-management units and which are instrumental in helping people to get their lives back. girl on steps fibromyalgia

The self-help approach described in Beating the Blues enables the reader to identify negative thoughts which go on to trigger low moods and emotions.

Many people assume that the difficulties which they experience are due entirely to their persistent pain. However, each warning sign can contribute to or cause others, leading to a persistent-pain cycle of fatigue, anxiety, sleep problems and relationship difficulties. These indications can also lead to feelings of anger and frustration, or sometimes withdrawal and isolation.

Beating the Blues helps readers to understand the pain cycle and then learn the techniques to break that cycle. Helpfully, each chapter includes simple exercises to complete, to learn how to recognise negative emotions and change unhelpful actions into ones that can help to break the pain cycle.

The need to reprogram the nervous system is a familiar concept in pain management. Beating the Blues explains in an uncomplicated fashion how chemical changes in the brain can result in brain processes becoming reactive, rather than being able to reason through the issues which are causing the greatest personal distress.

Beating the Blues teaches the reader how to use helpful thinking to combat the manifestations of pain and depression.

The final chapter of Beating the Blues recognises the profound impact that living with pain and depression can have on a person's entire life and wellbeing and provides lots of pointers and strategies to assist family members. These are effectively illustrated with snapshots of dialogue, so that readers can view concrete examples of speaking empathically and bringing about constructive relationships.

Beating the Blues speaks with warmth and without judgement and is a valuable part of a plan to transform feelings of fear, despondency and despair into constructive moods and positive habits.

This is an important book for many people living with persistent pain, because psychological distress affects almost half of us: persistent pain adds a lot of stress to brain processes. Beating the Blues is an honest and sincere driver of change and will be significant for people living with pain, as well as those who are close to them.

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The Australian Pain Management Association Ltd. (APMA) is a health promotion charity providing advocacy, information and practical support for people living with chronic (persistent) pain and their families. APMA is the consumer health organisation for all Australians who live with pain. APMA is your voice.


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