Why are chronic pain, addictions and mental health issues on the rise? How can that be if we live in a time of more abundance than any other time in our human history?

Are we perhaps bombarding our reward pathway with too much dopamine? Could excessive pleasure seeking habits be one of the many plausible explanations for the rise in chronic pain, anxiety & depression?

Based on several fMRI and behavioural studies on both animals and humans, neuroscientists have found that pleasure & pain are co-located in the brain. Although pleasure & pain are intimately related to each other, they work on the opposite sides of the balance.

The nervous system ideally searches for homeostasis to reach a balance between pain & pleasure. So in situations that involve significant dopamine release which is a deviation from neutrality, the nervous system always attempts to bring back balance.

We are all naturally wired to crave dopamine, the pleasure seeking molecule. We all search for our next dopamine fix through our “drug” of  choice, be it social media, video games, sugar, sex, shopping, gambling, Netflix, opioids, alcohol, work or even exercise.

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