Chronic pain and depression perpetuate one another, good article from Harvard Mental Health Letter

(This article was first printed in the September 2004 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. For more information or to order, please go to http://www.health.harvard.edu/mental.)The following is an excerpt that sounds very much like my own chronic pain and resulting depression/inability to focus on anything but constant physical pain in my ears mouth and jaw: (Read whole article by clicking  here.)

“…Brain pathways

The convergence of depression and pain is reflected in the circuitry of the nervous system. In the experience of pain, communication between body and brain goes both ways. Normally, the brain diverts signals of physical discomfort so that we can concentrate on the external world. When this shutoff mechanism is impaired, physical sensations, including pain, are more likely to become the center of attention. Brain pathways that handle the reception of pain signals, including the seat of emotions in the limbic region, use some of the same neurotransmitters involved in the regulation of mood, especially serotonin and norepinephrine. When regulation fails, pain is intensified along with sadness, hopelessness, and anxiety. And chronic pain, like chronic depression, can alter the functioning of the nervous system and perpetuate itself.

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