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Pain and Mood

Pain and Mood

Can pain affect mood and can mood affect pain?

The answer is unequivocally YES, the hard part is figuring out why and how.

How many times have you been having a perfectly fine day, let say you are walking along and then BAM! You stubbed your toe, got stung by a random bee, or missed a step and twisted your ankle.

Image From: https://www.fau.eu/2016/06/23/news/research/an-effective-but-painful-treatment/

How rapidly did your mood change at that moment?

How is it that your mental state can affect your perception of pain?

 As in this case where a patient underwent a lumpectomy procedure using only hypnosis as a sedative!


Or this case in Iran where a C-Section was performed with hypnosis as the means of Anesthesia. 

ISNA/PHOTO: Mona Hoobehfekr


Some of our very own patients who also happen to be musicians can tell you that they usually forget all about their pain while they are playing.

Or people who are not just physically tough but mentally tough and can seemingly ignore their pain and carry on until they reach a desired goal such as the case of ultra-endurance athletes like, David Goggins who routinely runs 100-mile ultra-marathons.

When studying how pain is perceived we must consider many aspects that when combined make everyone’s experience uniquely different. Subjective and Objective parameters such a:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Ethnicity
  • Occupation
  • Activity level
  • Mental Health
  • Time of day
  • Educational level
  • Stress Level

All these factors on their own can affect how someone perceives pain, so you can see how complicated things can get when trying to study pain.

Photo: Artist Depiction of numbness from Peripheral Neuropathy

Chronic Pain and mental health are almost inseparable, in fact clinicians and researchers have seen benefits of treating them simultaneously as an integrated issue with the use of Serotonin and Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI’s) like Cymbalta and Effexor. 

Night and Day by M.C. Escher.


Can one’s culture/heritage affect the way we experience pain? The question has been approached in an academic manner as you can see in this link. 


Although not definitively concluded, because of collective aspects of behavior in cultures where for example, public displays of grief are more common and accepted might seem to be less at ease with acute and chronic pain than someone from a culture where social tendencies seemingly tend more towards stoicism.

As you can see Pain, its experience, Interpretation and Treatment is dynamic, complex, and pretty much an artform.  Whether it is taking a few deep breaths to calm down or slipping into a Zen like trance during a surgical procedure your mind is a powerful tool in your fight against chronic pain.

So maybe there is something to this saying!

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