Depression and Pain


Pain and depression walk hand in hand. People with depression tend to experience more severe and longer-lasting pain than people without depression. In fact, having untreated clinical depression increases by 50% the likelihood that you’ll develop a chronic pain condition. Pain disorders suffered by people with depression can include nerve pain, irritable bowel syndrome, low back pain, fibromyalgia, and headaches (particularly migraines). Two of the most common pain disorders in people with depression are fibromyalgia and migraine headaches.

  • Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition in which individuals experience multiple tender points in muscles, joints, and bones throughout the body. More than 50% of people with fibromyalgia have major depressive disorder. Typically, they also suffer from chronic insomnia and fatigue. Usually the onset on depression precedes the onset of fibromyalgia.
  • Migraine headache. Migraine is a severe and recurrent vascular headache that often lasts for 24 hours or longer and is associated with photophobia (hypersensitivity to light), phonophobia (hypersensitivity to sound), and nausea. About 10% of Americans get migraine headaches. Major depressive disorder is common in patients with migraine: about 40% of all people who suffer from migraines experience major depressive disorder at some point. Clinical depression may start before or after the onset of migraine headaches.


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