New research examining the brains of over 1,200 participants suggests that having a mental health diagnosis may affect the way the brain perceives physical sensations. This revelation could pave the way for exciting new treatment modalities.

Pain receptors distributed throughout the body sense when something painful happens. These receptors then transmit the signal via neurons to the brain, where the sensation is integrated. When the sensation has been integrated in the brain, one can make sense of the feeling as something painful. But what if the sensation of pain was not a uniform one? New research from the University of Cambridgesuggests that people with mental illness may actually interpret bodily sensations differently.

In the Cambridge research study, researchers studied the ability to sense conditions in our body. Dr. Camilla Nord, Ph.D., lead researcher from the University of Cambridge, and her team analyzed brain imaging from over 1,200 subjects, including about half with a diagnosis of mental illness. The researchers then compared these images with ones from previous studies. The research showed that differences in the “dorsal mid-insula” could help explain why people with mental disorders interpret bodily sensations differently.

While more research needs to be done to make any conclusive statements, CalPsychiatry physicians understand that the mind-body connection is a strong one. Indeed, understanding this difference is what sets our physicians apart. Dr. Beatrice Rabkin, a psychosomatic-boarded psychiatrist based in the Bay Area, makes it her mission to help patients in a holistic, integrated way. Call today to book a consultation with Dr. Rabkin or our other experienced CalPsychiatry psychiatrists. Our unique collaborative approach to each patient is what sets CalPsychiatry apart. Call or book your free consultation today.


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