Dozens of studies have linked chronic pain and depression. In 2003, the American Medical Association (AMA) published a review of previously conducted research to further evaluate the relationship between depression and pain.
The AMA study specifically sought to answer the question: “Does the presence of pain lead primary care providers to recognize and treat depression?”
Their conclusions of the study were as follows:
According to the study, if all primary care patients with a variety of pain conditions such as abdominal pain, headache, joint pain and back pain were evaluated for depression, 60 percent of undetected depression cases could have been found.
If you're experiencing chronic pain and believe you may suffer from depression, talk to your primary care provider about your concerns and consider asking for a depression screening or a referral to a specialist who can help diagnose and treat your symptoms.
The AMA research found that treating the pain alone, and neglecting to treat the depression, led to failed outcomes -- but in most cases, patients who were treated with anti-depressants experienced improvement in both pain and depression symptoms. This can be explained by the theory that depression and painful symptoms follow the same pathways of the central nervous system. Talk to your medical provider about the best treatment plan for you.
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