Chronic pain, and its common partner depression, are serious problems that people around the world struggle to deal with effectively. A new study from the University of Manchester shows that meditation can be an effective tool for lessening chronic pain. The research shows that proper mindfulness based meditation causes the brain to anticipate the pain less, and thus reduce its severity. “The results of the study confirm how we suspected meditation might affect the brain. Meditation trains the brain to be more present-focused and therefore to spend less time anticipating future negative events. This may be why meditation is effective at reducing the recurrence of depression, which makes chronic pain considerably worse,” explained Dr Christopher Brown, who conducted the research. “Meditation is becoming increasingly popular as a way to treat chronic illness such as the pain caused by arthritis,” said Dr Brown. “Recently, a mental health charity called for meditation to be routinely available on the NHS to treat depression, which occurs in up to 50% of people with chronic pain. However, scientists have only just started to look into how meditation might reduce the emotional impact of pain.” Dr. Brown continuted: “Although we found that meditators anticipate pain less and find pain less unpleasant, it’s not clear precisely how meditation changes brain function over time to produce these effects. “However, the importance of developing new treatments for chronic pain is clear: 40% of people who suffer from chronic pain report inadequate management of their pain problem.”
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