Q&A: Why is my pain sometimes replaced by anxiety?

From The TMS Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search


I am in pain most of the time but sometimes the pain goes away and is replaced by anxiety. What is the correlation between pain and anxiety?

Answer by Alan Gordon, LCSW

An image of Alan Gordon, LCSW
Alan Gordon, LCSW

Alan Gordon's Profile Page / Bio Page / Psychophysiologic Disorders Association (PPDA) Board Member/ Miracles of Mindbody Medicine / Website

That's a great question. The answer is they're different sides of the same coin.

Imagine a child going to your house on Halloween in a Frankenstein costume. Then he goes home, changes into Spiderman, and comes back to your house for more candy. It's the same child, he's just wearing a different mask.

This is how the symptom imperative works. When emotions that are intolerable to the concsious mind arise (rage, sadness, etc.), the mind elicits defense mechanisms to keep them at bay. Psychosomatic pain is one of these defenses, anxiety is another. They serve the same purpose. The underlying issue is the same, it's just the mask that changes.

Other defense mechanisms are depression, OCD, rationalization, and rumination. It's a good idea to learn what defense mechanisms you use to help you better understand your behavior, and use them as a sign that there is something going on under the surface.


It is important to recognize that no information on this wiki can be considered a specific medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or medical advice. Reading information here does not create a doctor/patient or other professional relationship between you and the answering professional. As always, you should consult with your physicians and counselors regarding new symptoms and any changes that you might make in medications or activities.

Our goal is to get multiple answers for each question so that readers can benefit from a diversity of perspectives. To contribute your answer, click here.

Other Resources

DISCLAIMER: The TMS Wiki is for informational and support purposes only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. See Full Disclaimer.