Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Anticipation Anxiety
26 December 2013

Anticipation Anxiety

Putting off an inevitable trip to the dentist? You’d be better off gritting your teeth and getting it over as soon as possible. It turns out that for many of us, dreading pain can be more disabling than the pain itself. Participants in a recent study were asked to decide on the intensities of electric shocks they’d be subjected to at different times in the future, and to choose when to attend hypothetical dentist appointments at which different levels of pain would be expected. Most opted to experience the unavoidable pain sooner than later, with some even choosing worse pain to avoid waiting. Researchers think this is because the dread of pain may prevent us from focussing well on other activities. This research could be useful for helping people who suffer from long-term chronically painful conditions and also for clinicians when considering and scheduling potentially painful treatments for patients.

Written by Faiza Peeran

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