Study shows: Chronic Pain showing in adults with Anxiety or Depression

In a survey of adults with anxiety or a mood disorder like depression or bipolar disorder, about half reported experiencing chronic pain, according to researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The findings are published online in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

“The dual burden of chronic physical conditions and mood and anxiety disorders is a significant and growing problem,” said Silvia Martins, MD, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, and senior author.

The research examined survey data to analyze associations between DSM-IV-diagnosed mood and anxiety disorders and self-reported chronic physical conditions among 5,037 adults in São Paulo, Brazil. Participants were also interviewed in person.

Among individuals with a mood disorder, chronic pain was the most common, reported by 50 percent, followed by respiratory diseases at 33 percent, cardiovascular disease at 10 percent, arthritis reported by 9 percent, and diabetes by 7 percent.

Anxiety disorders were also common for those with chronic pain disorder at 45 percent, and respiratory at 30 percent, as well as arthritis and cardiovascular disease, each 11 percent.

Individuals with two or more chronic diseases had increased odds of a mood or anxiety disorder. Hypertension was associated with both disorders at 23 percent.

“These results shed new light on the public health impact of the dual burden of physical and mental illness,” said Dr. Martins. “Chronic disease coupled with a psychiatric disorder is a pressing issue that health providers should consider when designing preventive interventions and treatment services — especially the heavy mental health burden experienced by those with two or more chronic diseases.”

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I am a Mental Health Advocate for mental illness Stigma. In 2007, I created the "Living in Stigma" blog, with the purpose and anticipation of educating people about mental illness. Depression is part of this illness, which intertwines with those struggling with PTSD, chronic pain, and other invisible illnesses. I am a chronic migraine sufferer myself, and a sexual and emotional abuse survivor. My passions are writing, poetry, and art. All abuse Survivors are also Warriors.

18 thoughts on “Study shows: Chronic Pain showing in adults with Anxiety or Depression”

    1. Wow, excellent info on your blog. Interesting that you should include ‘Congenital Hypothyroidism’, as I’ve read about that before as I have a diagnosis of Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia and interested in congenital conditions. Not too many people are familiar with CAH, but you may want to take a peek at that disorder. Thanks for commenting. 🙂


  1. Great post! I feel like sometimes such correlations lead to patients being dismissed, however, instead of recognizing that they have double the problems. People with chronic pain are not “just depressed” or “somaticizing” their depression necessarily (i.e. correlation does not mean causation). There is some evidence, however, that the same neural pathways that are involved in depression are also involved in central sensitization, which is why it is believed anti-depressants seem to help some people with chronic pain. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true, and you are right, they are dismissed. You should see the ‘rolled-eyes’ when I show up at the ER looking for relief for my 5 day migraines. I can almost read the triage receptionist’s mind thinking “oh yeah, another headache, we’ll put her on the bottom of the pile”. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Gotta agree with you, and I was told with migraines, the stress of having a migraine one day and stressing about having one the next can cause a migraine! Geez, what a vicious circle. Thanks for commenting. 🙂


  2. Thank you so much for sharing this info! I suffer with chronic pain, mostly headaches, then migraines and my body aches constantly. Sometimes so much that I struggle to walk! As you probs know, I’m bipolar and borderline, and I did research on the meds I have to take and even THEY cause pain!! I know that cannabis helps hugely to ease pain, and one doesn’t have to get high on it, it can be juiced, and if not heated, it doesn’t make you high. (I’ve not tried it yet, but would really like to) anything to stop the chronic pain that never goes away! x x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve thought about cannabis also. It’s expensive for a wee bottle $100 CA (mixed in food I’d expect), but knowing me it would cause worse migraines, so I’m therefore skeptical.


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