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What contributes to the way people experience pain emotionally?

The emotional component of pain is multifactorial and includes past experiences, genetic factors, general states of health, the presence of depression and other psychological diagnosis, coping mechanisms and beliefs and fears surrounding the pain diagnosis. Importantly, thoughts as well as other sensations can influence the sensory pain input to consciousness as well as the emotional coloring of the pain sensation. The term given for this modulation of pain impulses is the "gate control theory of pain." Thus thoughts (beliefs, fears, depression, anxiety, anger, helplessness, etc.), as well as peripherally-generated sensations can both dampen or amplify pain. Indeed, in many chronic pain conditions (that lack of any effective therapy for the sensory/pain component), a reduction of pain and the resulting suffering can only be affected by modulating the psychological aspects of pain. As the psychological contribution to pain varies enormously from person to person, this approach has to be individualized. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.