Love is effective in driving pain away
Washington: If you experience intense and passionate feelings of love for someone, you probably won’t need a doctor or drugs to drive pain away as love will do it for you, says a new study.
A Stanford University School of Medicine study revealed that love can provide amazingly effective pain relief, similar to painkillers or such illicit drugs as cocaine.
"When people are in this passionate, all-consuming phase of love, there are significant alterations in their mood that are impacting their experience of pain," said Sean Mackey, chief of the Division of Pain Management, and associate professor of anaesthesia.
“These are very deep, old systems in our brain that involve dopamine — a primary neurotransmitter that influences mood, reward and motivation,” he added.
“This probably happens because the areas of the brain activated by intense love are the same areas that drugs use to reduce pain,” said Arthur Aron, a professor of psychology at State University of New York at Stony Brook.
"When thinking about your beloved, there is intense activation in the reward area of the brain - the same area that lights up when you take cocaine, the same area that lights up when you win a lot of money," he said.
"We specifically were not looking for longer-lasting, more mature phases of the relationship. We wanted subjects who were feeling euphoric, energetic, obsessively thinking about their beloved, craving their presence,” said Mackey.
"When passionate love is described like this, it in some ways sounds like an addiction. We thought, ``Maybe this does involve similar brain systems as those involved in addictions which are heavily dopamine-related.`` Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in our brain that is intimately involved with feeling good,” he added.
"This tells us that you don’t have to just rely on drugs for pain relief. People are feeling intense rewards without the side effects of drugs,” Aron said.
The study will be published online Oct. 13 in PLoS ONE.