Recent discoveries in neuroscience have revolutionized our management of pain. Although it often starts in the body, all pain involves the brain. In fact there is an 80% overlap in the areas of the brain involved in physical and emotional pain. The great thing about the brain is that it is changeable – capable of being modified by experience.
Increased understanding of the brain has led to the development of new strategies for overcoming pain, aimed at changing the patterns of brain activity which maintain pain. These range from SSRI anti-depressants to meditation to innovative psychological therapies such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
These methods target the deeper areas of the brain where sensory-emotional aspects of pain are stored. Because they are designed to work with how the brain works, they are both more efficient and more effective. Just think about the difference between how walking along a beach at sunset (or listening to music or having coffee with a friend) makes you feel compared with telling yourself to relax. The sensory experience affects you much more than the purely mental one.