Mind and Body: Depression Can Make Chronic Pain Worse

June 16, 2009

A new study says fighting depression can also help chronic-pain sufferers with their physical pain.

Doctors estimate about 30 to 50 percent of all patients with chronic pain suffer from depression. And there’s growing evidence the depression may make the pain even worse.

“It’s almost like the amplifier is turned up — you feel it a lot more,” said Matt Bayazitoglu, of Baylor Medical Center Dallas.

But patients who took anti-depressants were more successful in reducing their pain, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“They’re able to more actively engage in therapy sessions,” Bayazitoglu said. “They’re able to do more things to get off the pain. In addition, it sort of decreases the amplifier, so they don’t feel the pain as much.”

The approach helped 25-year-old Katelyn Bradwell, who developed reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a painful neurological disorder, after she injuring her leg. More…