Chronic pain and depression are linked, according to an article in the summer 2017 issue of the Ochsner Journal. Vadivelu and colleagues provide a detailed literature review on the relationship between pain and psychology.
Among patients with chronic pain, 30%-45% of them also experience depression, but surprisingly, up to half of patients with chronic pain are not screened for depression, increasing the chances that they will develop more severe depression.
In their review of studies that have investigated the associations between depression, pain sensitivity, opioid use, and gender differences in pain perception, the authors elucidate several aspects of the complex relationship between depression and pain.
The examination of the role of opioids is particularly timely given the current discussion of the opioid epidemic in the United States. Vadivelu et al cite some shocking statistics. Among them, in 2014, more than 10 million Americans aged 12 years and older used opioid analgesics nonmedically. Admitting that the link between opioids and depression is not well defined, the authors present several hypotheses regarding the relationship.
Explore these issues for yourself by reading “Pain and Psychology—A Reciprocal Relationship.”
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