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Mental Disorders Increase Risk for Eventual Chronic Pain in Adolescents
CHICAGO, Ill., Dec. 8, 2015 -- Affective, anxiety and behavioral disorders in adolescents are early risk factors for eventual development of chronic pain, according to research reported in The Journal of Pain, the peer-review publication of the American Pain Society.
A multicenter team of European researchers evaluated data from some 6,500 study participants accessed in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement. Lifetime chronic pain was assessed by self-reports, and mental disorders were examined using the WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview and parent reports.
Several previous studies in adults have consistently documented increased rates of psychopathology in adults with pain conditions, including depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, substance abuse and personality disorders. Prevalence estimates of metal disorders among persons with chronic pain range between 6 percent and 28 percent.
Little knowledge is available about the relationship of mental disorders and chronic pain in adolescents, even though there is evidence showing a link between child and adolescent pain and adult psychiatric symptoms and, conversely, the relationship between child/adolescent mental disorders and chronic pain in adulthood.
The main objectives of the study were to estimate the prevalence, in a sample of adolescents, of co-occurrence of lifetime chronic pain and mental disorders, the association of between lifetime chronic pain and mental disorders, and the temporal sequence of lifetime chronic pain and mental disorders.
Results showed that a fourth of the adolescents reported having chronic pain or a mental disorder in their lifetime.
All types of pain were related to mental disorders, but the most substantial associations were found in cases showing mental disorders preceded the onset of chronic pain. The findings indicate affective, anxiety and behavior disorders are early risk factors for development of chronic pain.
The authors concluded their results corroborate and advance knowledge about the link between chronic pain and mental disorders, and also show that the relationship forms in childhood and adolescence with increasing comorbidity in adulthood. The findings underscore the relevance of mental disorders in adolescence for pain research and suggest the need for stronger collaborations between pain-care practitioners and mental health specialists.
About the American Pain Society
Based in Chicago, the American Pain Society (APS) is a multidisciplinary community that brings together a diverse group of scientists, clinicians and other professionals to increase the knowledge of pain and transform public policy and clinical practice to reduce pain-related suffering. APS is the professional home for investigators involved in all aspects of pain research including basic, translational, clinical and health services research to obtain the support and inspiration they need to flourish professionally. APS strongly advocates expansion of high quality pain research to help advance science to achieve effective and responsible pain relief. For more information on APS, visit www.americanpainsociety.org.
Note: For a pdf copy of the Journal of Pain article, email Chuck Weber.