We often try and highlight the connections between one’s mental health and their physical health complaints, to demonstrate that the two are inseparable. Yet another study has been published to show how our insecurity can even impact something as physical as the feeling of pain.

The study of 382 teenagers showed that those who were more insecure had a tendency to amplify the degree they felt pain:

We found that adolescents with insecure relationships tend to be more ‘alarmist’ about their pain symptoms; they have a tendency to amplify the degree of threat or severity of their pain. This amplification leads to more intense pain and more severe depressive symptoms.

In other words, the more insecure a teen reportedly was, the more intense pain they complained of, often in the form of frequent headaches, joint pain or abdominal pain. These same teens were more likely to be depressed than those who were less insecure.

Whether it’s because their perception of pain is different than others, or it’s that these individuals may be using the expression of pain or health concerns as a means of eliciting a sympathetic response from others (perhaps unconsciously), the upshot is that insecurity shares a correlation with this expression of pain. It doesn’t really matter if the pain is “real” or not — the insecure person believes it to be so.

Since the researchers only studied teenagers, with no followup, they couldn’t say whether their findings continue on into adulthood, when adolescents often change and become more assertive and secure in their personality and self-perception.

But what if it doesn’t? What if some of those teens then go on to become what we might refer to as hypochondriacs, always complaining of one physical symptom or another? It is interesting to imagine that training tools to help someone with problems of social awkwardness and self-esteem could also, as a side effect, help “cure” some people of these additional ills.

Read the full article: Teen Insecurity Linked to Depression, Pain Complaints



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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Nov 2009
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2009). Insecurity, Pain and Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 17, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/11/30/insecurity-pain-and-depression/


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