Anti-Anxiety Medication and Chronic Pain

In his new book Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind, author David Linden explores the way the brain, the skin, and the nerves interact to create pleasure and pain. In this interview with NPR, Linden discusses the way anti-anxiety medication can affect chronic pain, in that the former can partially reduce the latter.

Linden says:

“So it turns out that the emotional pain centers are richly interconnected with regions of our brain having to do with cognition and anxiety and anticipation. So this is why many people who suffer from chronic pain can get partial relief from anti-anxiety medication. It’s not that the anti-anxiety medication directly affects pain-perception — what it does is it breaks this horrible positive feedback loop between anxiety and chronic pain.”

In many cases, Linden says, anxiety can trigger more chronic pain. So if you have less anxiety, he suggests, maybe you can have less pain as well.

What do you think? Have you ever been prescribed anti-anxiety medication for chronic pain? If so, how did it work for you?

One thought on “Anti-Anxiety Medication and Chronic Pain

  1. I am a physical therapist, working with patients with chronic pain. I have found many patients have benefited from anti-anxiety meds, and there are some patients that don’t seem to benefit much at all. My personal story….about 8 years ago I developed sudden onset widespread chronic pain and severe muscle fatigue (I was under significant stress at the time). After a year of medical tests to rule out MS, lupus, lyme disease etc. I had no specific diagnosis other than a “sleep pattern disorder”. I was prescribed a combination of antidepressants and gabapentin at night. This turned out to be exactly what I needed to get past the road block, and get back to my typical self care program including regular exercise. I wish I could say that I have been able to eliminate the medication, but unfortunately, attempts to do so result in a return in the pain and fatigue. So for now, I am happy that there is something that can help keep me functioning (and thriving) in my life.

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