Depression hurts--in more ways than one.
We already know how low moods can lead to high pain... and now, a new study shows how it happens.
Researchers studied the brains of healthy people as they were subjected to pain. Then, in addition to that pain, they worked in a little sadness by adding some depressing music to the mix, or causing some negative thoughts.
Must've been a pleasant study for those participants!
In any case, the University of Oxford researchers say that the negative thoughts and sad tunes caused the brains to process the pain more emotionally--and that, in turn, made the pain feel even worse, according to the study in Biological Psychiatry.
Practically speaking, the study means that depressed people who suffer from chronic pain--a common enough one-two punch of sadness and suffering--can get some real relief without painkillers if they can just get a grip on their depression.
There are even some techniques that can help beat both at the same time--and two new studies show how.
The first finds that people who've been meditating for a long time--decades, really--don't anticipate pain in the same way as people who don't meditate. In fact, they barely anticipate it at all.
As anyone who's ever waited for a needle can attest, the anticipation can be the worst part. So it's probably not surprising that the meditators had less pain to go along with their lack of anticipation, according to the study in the aptly named journal Pain.
Researchers found this connection by zapping volunteers with a laser to deliberately cause pain, by the way. I hope all these people signed waivers.
The biggest benefit was found in people who had been meditating for 35 years or more... but if you haven't spent the past three or four decades in the company of a yogi, don't worry. You have other options.
Another new study finds that all you might really need are two strong hands--because massage therapy won't just help you prevail over pain, it can also help beat the blues.
The analysis of 17 studies, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found that massage "is significantly associated with alleviated depressive symptoms."
Now that's the kind of hands-on approach we can all appreciate.