Depression tends to magnify your pain

June 8th, 2010 - 3:27 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 8 (IANS) When it comes to pain, it boils down to either it’s “all in your head” or “all in your body”.
Depression and pain often co-occur, but the underlying mechanistic reasons for this have largely been unknown.

A new study led by University of Oxford researchers indicates that, instead, pain is an amalgam of the two.

To examine the interaction between depression and pain, Chantal Berna and colleagues used brain imaging to see how healthy volunteers responded to pain while feeling low.

Their findings revealed that inducing depressed mood disrupted a portion of the participants’ neurocircuitry that regulates emotion, causing an enhanced perception of pain.

In other words, as explained by Berna, “when the healthy people were made sad by negative thoughts and depressing music, we found that their brains processed pain more emotionally, which led to them finding the pain more unpleasant.”

The authors speculate that being in a sad state of mind and feeling low disables one’s ability to regulate the negative emotion associated with feeling pain.

Pain, then, has a greater impact. Rather than merely being a consequence of having pain, depressed mood may drive pain and cause it to feel worse, said an Oxford release.

“Our research suggests depressed mood leads to maladaptive changes in brain function associated with pain, and that depressed mood itself could be a target for treatment by medicines or psychotherapy in this context,” commented Berna.

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