Chronic pain common in affective disorders

By Eleanor McDermid, Senior medwireNews Reporter

Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) or bipolar disorder frequently report chronic pain at multiple sites, research shows.

Study author Barbara Nicholl (University of Glasgow, UK) and team say that their data “highlight the importance of an adequate assessment of the nature and extent of pain in patients with [bipolar disorder] or MDD.”

Chronic pain at a single site was not more common in patients with mood disorders, with around 23% of the 149,611 people in the study reporting this. But the frequency of pain at two to three sites rose from 13.2% of the 116,184 people without a mood disorder, to 19.8% of the 31,814 people with MDD and 22.6% of the 1613 people with bipolar disorder.

Pain at four to seven sites was reported by a corresponding 1.8%, 4.5% and 5.8% of the groups, and widespread pain by 0.8%, 1.9% and 3.3%, the team reports in BMC Psychiatry.

After accounting for confounders including chronic comorbidities, the likelihood of having a mood disorder was significantly increased in people with chronic pain, compared with no pain, and the relative risk ratio increased with the number of affected sites. For example, the likelihood of having depression was increased 1.27-fold with pain at one site, but 2.14-fold with pain at four to seven sites and 1.86-fold with widespread pain. And the relative risk ratios for bipolar disorder were slightly larger.

“A more effective role in managing patients with both physical and mental morbidities has been called for in both psychiatry and general practice and our findings support the need for this”, say the researchers.

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