Internal Medicine and Medical Investigation Journal

ISSN: 2474-7750

What is Emotional Pain? A Review of Pathophysiology and Treatment Options


Author(s): Ahsan Zil-E-Ali, Rooha Tariq, Muhammad Aadil, Fatima Zil-E-Ali, Asad Ali, Asma Ahmed, Sara Rahim Khan

Pain is a dynamic process that involves multiple physiological systems for its perception and outcomes. The basic pain process involves a complex neurological process and biochemical changes. Emotional pain is an extended form of the already known pain wherein the stimuli are emotional in nature involving abstract feelings, for example, losing a loved one. Currently, there is growing evidence that like pain, emotional pain also involves inflammatory processes and that the behavioral approach is directly associated with them. This association can help us modify emotional pain by modulating the inflammatory processes that are already known. In addition to therapeutic and counseling interventions, mindfulness-, writing-, and exposure-based interventions can help in not only treating the condition but also exploring other avenues of the pain physiology. Emotional pain has always been a part of human history but one of the least discussed forms of pain. Future neuropsychiatric studies may help in further investigating the process of emotional pain.INTRODUCTIONPain is a perception formed by the cognitive part of the human brain. The brain computes the chemical changes in the body or receives a stimulus, which if harmful, is perceived as pain. Irrespective of whether the danger or fear is real and whether it is really harmful, it is perceived as damaging, and hence, we experience pain. To understand the mechanism of emo-tional pain, it is essential to define and understand pain as a whole. Pain is a multidimensional term used to label a range of situations we face, from physical trauma from an accident to the inevitable suffering of human life.We acknowledge the different situations that cause us physical pain because there is evidence to support its origin; therefore, finding a cure to physical pain is easy. However, the scars of emotional pain are well hidden deep inside ourselves, and they are tougher to find and hence cure. The symptoms of emotional pain can be cured, but as long as the stimulus is present, the feeling does not go away; therefore, emotional pain needs much more assess-ment on the part of the physician and patient than phys-ical pain. Although physical pain, e.g., pain in your leg, Published by Mehrabani Publishing LLC. Copyright (c) the author(s). This is an open access article under CC BY license ( stop you from walking around, the crippling pain of losing a loved one or not getting that job you worked re-ally hard for might deprive you of the capacity to perform even the day-to-day activities to sustain life. The brain is not hardwired when it comes to pain perception; many systems, humoral and cognitive, come into play whenever we perceive pain (1). There is enough evidence to sup-port the fact that psychological stress or emotional pain is connected to and predisposes us to persistent physical pain. The incidence of childhood adversities and ear-ly-life conflicts is associated with various pain conditions later in life, e.g., migraine headaches (2), interstitial cys-titis or painful bladder, pelvic pain, irritable bowel syn-drome, and fibromyalgia (3-7). Therefore, it can be safely considered that nerve-racking circumstances can not only exacerbate the pain but also trigger it.In the following discussion, we review the biochemical and neurological aspects of pain perception. To make our understanding of emotional pain more comprehensive and to ensure better outcomes and prognosis of emotional pain, we have discussed it in comparison with physical pain.ARTICLE INFOConflicts of interest: NoneFunding: NoneKey wordsEmotional,Pathophysiology,PainInternal Medicine and Medical Investigation JournalE-ISSN: 2474-7750Homepage: www.imminv.comInternal Medicine and Medical Investigation JournalE-ISSN: 2474-7750Homepage: www.imminv.comArticlehistoryReceived:Jan 10, 2017Accepted:May 30, 2017Published:Nov 11, 2017 Volume:3Issue:4

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