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People with a genetic history of stress feel more pain - study

A genetic predisposition to stress, anxiety or depression can hurt you physically, a new report says.

A NEW STUDY from NUI Galway has found that those with a family history of pain or stress feel physical pain more acutely.

The NUIG report has been published in leading medical journal Pain and found that genetic predisposition to stress and depression blunted “marijuana-like” chemicals called endocannabinoids in the human brain.

The work, funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council, was carried out by Dr David Finn and his research team in the Centre for Pain Research and Galway Neuroscience Centre at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science, NUI Galway.

Working with Dr Finn, first author Dr Kieran Rea was able to show that a genetic background associated with higher stress and anxiety responses was associated with a greater pain response and a blunted response of these endocannabinoids in the part of the brain called the rostral ventromedial medulla.

Dr David Finn, Leader of the Galway Neuroscience Centre, Co-Director of the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway and study leader says:

“The link between emotionality and pain is fascinating and highly complex.

This research suggests a key role for the brain’s endocannabinoid system in a genetic background prone to heighted stress or negative emotion.

“This research, which was funded by a grant from Science Foundation Ireland, advances our understanding of the neurobiology of pain and may facilitate the identification of new therapeutic targets for the treatment of pain and psychiatric disorders.”

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