Mood

Girl listening to music on train
Mood changes are a common and challenging part of experiencing ongoing pain. The more chronic the pain, the more difficult it can be to undo these changes. Common mood disorders associated with chronic pain include depression and anxiety. In some cases, those struggling with prolonged pain problems report no longer feeling like their old selves, as if their personalities have changed into a different version of themselves. Family members and...
Have you ever had a gut feeling or butterflies in your belly when you were in love? Have you ever gotten so frustrated or upset that your stomach was in knots and you felt like throwing up your lunch? It goes without saying our gut and our mind are intertwined. 
All three words do relate to one thing: how we perceive and sense things both within our body and the world around us. Recently a student of mine asked me about interoception versus proprioception. Well, this is complicated because there’s another word, exteroception, to add to the mix. All three terms are relevant to our overall well-being and how our body and mind connect. If the human body were easy to understand, we wouldn’t have to worry...
Ray of light shining through trees
I have said this many times to new patients that I have seen for the first time, but only because I truly believe it. Patients often show up for the first time expressing frustration and pessimism about their pain problem ever improving. Chronic pain patients often find themselves in the position of seeing many different doctors and trying a number of different treatments, procedures, medications, and even surgeries without success. In some...
Image courteous of Jason Rodgers, Flikr
LAS VEGAS—Opioids have diverse and important functions, with opioid use and taper affecting many domains of experience and behavior. In fact, long-term opioid use patterns suggest that opioids treat not only physical pain, but social pain.
Man holding head against sunset
The experience of pain usually carries with it a strong emotional component. The more intense the pain or the longer the pain lasts, the more dramatic the emotional changes seem to be. Part of what makes more persistent or chronic pain so difficult to deal with is the burden or heaviness of dealing with these significant mood shifts. Such changes not only affect how we feel inside but heavily influence how we interact with others, including...
Holding hands while riding bike
Our sense of touch is one of our most basic and fundamental aspects of the human experience. We use our ability to feel as an integral tool to discriminate and better understand our environment, almost without thinking about it, because we do it all day long. Likewise, being touched by others is a critical part of human communication, whether it is through a handshake, a hug, or a pat on the back. Human contact can be considered a key component...
Woman holding head in pain
Maintaining a healthy brain can be a lot like farming. Growing produce is really a simple process, but there are many little nuances that determine the fate of the crops each year. First of all, farmers need soil and seeds, and they must use them properly. They must plant cucumber seeds in order to harvest cucumbers and not watermelon. And if they don’t plant anything, all they can expect are some random weeds. They will reap what they sow....
Empty, unmade bed
Sleep disturbance seems to be one of the most common and problematic side effects of experiencing pain. In fact, problems sleeping are among the biggest complaints that I hear from patients each day. There are often many reasons for this. Arousal mechanisms, such as what can come from episodes of breakthrough pain in the middle of the night, can cause untimely and unwanted wake-ups. Arousal can also come about as a result of emotional processes...
Man jumping with umbrella
Happiness is kind of difficult to measure or describe, but you know it when you see it or feel it. Chronic pain can take away many things in our lives, including joy. Loss can be one of the biggest frustrations of dealing with ongoing pain, but there are ways to regain happiness despite the pain. 

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