Breaking the Pain Chain®
Breaking the Pain Chain®
Understanding Pain

Emotions and Pain

Pain signals that travel up your spinal cord and into your brain end up in the mood center of your brain (as well as other parts). Many studies have shown that pain affects your emotions, and your emotions affect your pain. Pain may make you angry, sad, depressed or stressed. But when you are happy and positively focused on other things (enjoying your child’s wedding day, for example), you may hardly notice your aching fingers.

The way your mind controls thoughts and attitudes affects the way your body controls pain. Pain and the fear of pain can cause you to avoid physical and social activities, which can weaken your relationships, affect your mobility and lead to more pain.

Depression is very common among people living with chronic pain. Pain can cause depression or worsen existing depression. Likewise, depression can make existing pain worse.

How you handle your emotions can make your pain better or worse. Several factors affect your emotional health, including:

  • relationships and support system
  • attitude and life outlook
  • use of outlets for dealing with anxiety and stress
  • ability to recognize and deal with depression
  • lifestyle choices that enhance wellness

If you better understand what’s affecting your emotions, you may be more able to manage your pain experience. Successfully managing pain requires using different strategies. You should work together with your family, friends and health-care team to addresses physical and emotional factors that influence your pain.

Learn more about the emotion-pain connection on

Performance Health