Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.  -George Iles

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Depression and Chronic Pain Should Be Treated Separately

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD

Although people often suffer from chronic pain and depression at the same time, the two conditions need to be treated separately.

Pain is depressing. So it is not surprising that people who have fibromyalgia, a chronic pain syndrome, also tend to be depressed. However, researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Cologne now report that, from brain imaging studies, there is no obvious link between pain intensity and level of depression in fibromyalgia.

It has been assumed that if depression is treated, pain should also get better. This study shows that the pain experience on a stimulus given to a group with fibromyalgia varied in intensity. There was no link between the level of pain and the level of depression. However, those with fibromyalgia were certainly more sensitive to pain than the normal controls in this study. Clinically, antidepressants don't often relieve a patient's pain, but they may feel better about it. The pain and depression occur independently, according to these findings, and they should therefore be treated separately.

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