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The Dangers of Co-Occurring Depression and Pain

The Dangers of Co-Occurring Depression and PainWhether it’s back pain or a chronic digestive issue, the physical symptoms that go along with depression can be a dangerous aspect of the disease. While individuals suffering from depression commonly experience chronic pain, some traditional treatment programs focus only on the mood disorder without addressing the physical symptoms.

Physical Symptoms of Depression

According to a 2004 article in The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, patients with a high number of physical pain symptoms are more likely to have a mood disorder than patients with only a few physical symptoms. Dr. Madhukar H. Trivedi claims physicians should screen these patients for depression since studies show a strong link between the conditions.

An accurate diagnosis of depression is crucial since there are serious risks that go along with inadequate pain treatments. Trivedi’s article links suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts to reports of chronic pain in many depressed patients. Researchers believe there is enough evidence to consider pain a strong suicide risk factor.

Brain Chemicals and Pain

There is also a connection in the brain between pain and depression. The brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine regulate mood, as well as the brain’s response to painful physical sensations. Therefore, medications that regulate both serotonin and norepinephrine can be therapeutic for depressed patients experiencing pain. A class of antidepressant medications that are dual serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, such as Effexor (venlafaxine) and Cymbalta (duloxetine), may provide the most relief by balancing these chemicals. This class of medications is likely to be more effective than selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Zoloft (sertraline) and Paxil (paroxetine).

Relapse and Depression

Trivedi claims that when pain symptoms are treated along with depression, relapse rates are lower, and patients are more likely to achieve long-term remission from depression. He calls for continued monitoring of all symptoms and believes patients should not be considered in remission until all of their symptoms are gone.

Co-Occurring Depression and Pain Help

There are many effective options for treating both pain and depression. Call our toll-free helpline today to learn more. We are available 24 hours a day to answer questions and provide information to family members, friends and individuals suffering from depression and pain. Take action today and get the help you need to be healthy.

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