Depression May Make Pain Feel Worse

OXFORD, England, June 8 (UPI) — The impact of pain is greater when a person feels depressed, British researchers said.

Dr. Chantal Berna of the University of Oxford in England and colleagues used brain imaging to determine how emotion affected the way people responded to pain.


The researchers found feeling depressed had an effect on the brain neurocircuits that regulate emotion, resulting in greater perception of pain.

“When the healthy people were made sad by negative thoughts and depressing music, we found that their brains processed pain more emotionally, which lead to them finding the pain more unpleasant,” Berna said in statement.

The study, published in Biological Psychiatry, suggested feeling sad disabled the ability to regulate the negative emotion associated with pain.

The findings raise the possibility, Berna said, of treating pain by treating depression.

“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,” Berna said.

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