Sometimes people without chronic pain and/or illnesses don’t quite “get it”. Here’s a viewpoint from someone else with chronic pain.
People living with chronic pain often experience depression and negative emotion, magnifying both the severity and ongoing nature of the pain. Although that may come as no surprise to someone who has lived with pain or other significant life stress, in fact, people also experience positive emotions in the midst of chronic pain—an idea researchers have been slow to realize. Positive emotion—feelings such as happiness, excitement and calmness—can lower perceptions of pain intensity, may break the vicious cycle of pain and negative emotion, and thereby reduce pain-related suffering.
As a professor of medical social sciences and director of research at the Northwestern University Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, my research confirms that positive emotions commonly surface and can easily co-exist during times of intense grief or pain. For example, although caregivers we studied reported high levels of depression and stress, they also reported experiencing frequent positive emotions as well, often…
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