At some point, you hear from some and those around you a complaint of back pain. Perhaps the person has been injured at one time and eventually suffered slight regular pains.
For some, the pain may actually be a good sign as it reminds them to pay attention better to their bodies. For those who would like to remain walking for a few more decades, this will prompt them to seek medical help to not suffer permanent damage.
This pain, of course, will not be enjoyable and for sure those concerned will have to take sedatives to ease the discomfort.
In a way, back pain is common, but there is a different type of injury that is more common in our lives. Probably that individual’s life: psychological suffering. And here I do not mean depression or anxiety, which requires professional intervention, but I mean the routine chronic grind of conflict, dissatisfaction and sadness, which often constitutes a slight pain in the background of our days!
Most of those pains may be one disease that has many names from a neurological point of view! Where one of the medical studies indicated: that physical pain activates several parts of the brain, especially the cortex called the anterior cingulate cortex. Neuroscientists found that our brains suffer from emotional pain in the same place!
This leads us to a fundamental and real point, which is that physical pain consists of two main parts: the sensory component (physical sensation) and the emotional component (unwanted or aversive perception). Here, psychological pain participates in this second component, as we may have noticed in our reality sometimes. Did you not notice an individual who became suffering from a severe headache for the first time in his life only after the unexpected death of his relative?
Thus whether that pain is a useful warning sign or just an annoyance, psychological pain can get in the way of our lives. Perhaps the trick here is to make it manageable safely, without erasing it completely, as some (mild) pain relievers do with everyday aches. Especially since a lot of psychological suffering has physical manifestations. When you feel anxious or tense, for example, you might be tempted to tighten your stomach muscles. Noting such physical signs can help you effectively manage the emotions that they cause.
On the other hand, it was found that contact with other people significantly protects against all kinds of pain. Social support is something we are all aware of and how it relieves symptoms of physical pain. Especially since medical studies have also proven that people who have more social support, have more moderate responses to cortisol in the face of stress. Having family or friends around you is really a preventative when it comes to psychological pain associated with one’s life.
In the end, I emphasise here and always that helping others in distress certainly leads to better emotional regulation and reduces symptoms of depression. You may not need to be reminded that giving love may in fact be the best strategy – if you will – to reduce pain in this life.
Dr Yousuf Ali Al Mulla is a physician, medical innovator and a writer.