Warding Off Catastrophizing with Distractions

Warding Off Catastrophizing with Distractions
Christine Tender Points What you're about to read may shock you. Recent studies using neuroimaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have shown that we get the pain we expect! Some experts refer to this effect as catastrophizing. An even more troubling result of these studies is the agreement by experts that the expectation of pain actually amplifies the pain experience. Shocking indeed! It's not that I doubt the study results. My concern is that I feel powerless to do anything about it. After decades of daily pain, how could I reasonably expect anything else? It seems that negative thinking like catastrophizing leads to changes in the nervous system, which prime a person for future pain. Such thinking also triggers the fight or flight response, which has been linked to fibromyalgia pain. This is an example of a good thing gone awry. If working correctly, the fight or flight system is designed to alert the body to be on high alert for danger. Unfortunately, for those of us with fibromyalgia, this response is stuck in the "on" position much of the time, even when no danger is present. Over time, the fight or flight response (or acute 
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