Health

More parts of the brain control and link depression and pain

A young man sitting alone thinking Photo/npr.org

A new research has linked clinical depression and pain to parts of the brain that regulates moods thus explaining why depressed persons display an lessened ability to govern their ruminative thought process.

The researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine elaborated and deepen that understanding, identifying specific regions of the brain that drive, influence and moderate depressive mood and its relationship to perceiving physical pain.

The study published in the journal PAIN revealed that both executive function regions of the brain and areas monitoring sensory input were involved in both pain and negative mood, both high and low levels.

The scientists, led by senior author Fadel Zeidan, PhD, assistant professor of anesthesiology at UC San Diego School of Medicine, studied 76 health participants who were non-depressed and pain-free. They were given a standardized assessment of negative mood and depression, then exposed to an unpleasant thermal (heat) stimulus while undergoing magnetic resonance scanning.

The results showed that the region of the brain that manages higher level executive functions like cognition, memory and behavior also moderated pain perception, along with sensory discrimination areas.

They found that participants with higher levels of depressive mood exhibited heightened sensitivity of experimental pain, with greater activation in all of the involved brain regions.

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{ Read: 5 Simple physical exercises to ease depression }

According to the researchers, they were surprised by the expansive roles of the said brain regions.

“Brain regions involved in facilitating pain were also associated with lower pain and depression. Brain regions involved in regulating pain where also associated with increasing depression. Perhaps it’s not surprising after seeing the results. Why shouldn’t specific aspects of the brain perform multiple roles?” posed Zeidan.

“These findings illuminate the complex relationship between depressive mood and pain. We also hope that we can use these findings to better refine the development of novel behavioral and non-opioid-based therapies that target the comorbid nature of chronic pain and clinical depression, leading to better treatments for both,” he added.

{ See Also: 7 most stressful jobs in Kenya that can cause mental illness }

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Brenda Gamonde
Brenda Gamonde is reporter with Business Today. Email: [email protected]

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