Neuroticism — the tendency to experience negative emotions —significantly affects brain processing during pain, as well as during the anticipation of pain, according to a new study in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association. Neuroticism tends to be higher in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and is a risk factor for chronic, unexplained pain in IBS.
"Patients who have high expectations of pain may have a harder time coping with the actual source of pain, as is often seen in patients with irritable bowel syndrome," said Steven J. Coen, PhD, of the Wingate Institute of Neurogastroenterology and lead author of this study.
Researchers of this study observed higher levels of neuroticism associated with brain activity during anticipation of pain in regions of the brain responsible for emotional and cognitive pain processing. During pain, however, activity in these regions was reduced. This behavior may help explain the greater incidence of those with higher neuroticism attending outpatient pain clinics and being at greater risk for developing chronic pain conditions.
"Previous research has shown that there is a connection between a patient's emotions and their perceived levels of pain, especially in gastrointestinal disorders," explained Dr. Coen. "Our study shows a patient's state of mind should be noted by their physician and taken into account when determining treatment regimens — both behavioral and pharmacologic."
For more information on IBS, please read the AGA brochure "Understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome" at http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/digestive-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome.
About the AGA Institute
The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to include 17,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization. www.gastro.org.
Gastroenterology, the official journal of the AGA Institute, is the most prominent scientific journal in the specialty and is in the top 1 percent of indexed medical journals internationally. The journal publishes clinical and basic science studies of all aspects of the digestive system, including the liver and pancreas, as well as nutrition. The journal is abstracted and indexed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences, Chemical Abstracts, Current Contents, Excerpta Medica, Index Medicus, Nutrition Abstracts and Science Citation Index. For more information, visit www.gastrojournal.org.
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