What chronic pain does to your brain: part 2

A model brain bisected IMAGE: THE THALAMUS HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS THE ‘BORDER IN THE BRAIN’ (FLICKR/DJ NEIGHT/CC BY NC ND 2.0)

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Researchers also found people with chronic pain experienced a reduction in the volume of their prefrontal cortex—the region of the brain that is understood to regulate emotions, personality expression and social behaviour.

This results in a further decline in the neurotransmitter GABA.

‘Every emotion and every cognition is amplified. People with ongoing pain, they anticipate pain with a lot of fear and they worry a lot of the time, and they can’t dampen down these feelings because the prefrontal cortex has lost its ability to dampen down these thoughts.’

Anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts can be big problems for those living with chronic pain, says Gustin.

Twenty per cent try to suicide.

A lot of clients who I see, they can’t stop their worrying, they can’t stop their anxiety, and they ask me why.

‘I think showing them that there are subtle changes in the brain—and because of these subtle brain changes, they have these thoughts and they can’t stop it—it helps them to cope with that, because a lot of times they are stigmatised.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. wow! this makes a lot of sense to me…….living with chronic pain just totally sucks!

  2. I have more coming

    I was in a chronic pain group of 15. Headed by a PhD Pain psychiatrist

    This group showed me how to not behave towards pain.

    Chronic pain is different than acute pain

    Much more in coming posts

    I named my pain

    Mr P.

    I needed to give my pain human qualities or at least a concrete existence

  3. I look forward to reading future posts. 🙂

  4. Can you share about your chronic pain and how it impacts everyday life

  5. Oh wow………that would be very hard for me to do in a comment……..but I live with pain every day, some days are worse than others. some days I can do things, some days I can’t. I have spent way too many days in bed over the years for my liking…….

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