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Longitudinal association between pain, and depression and anxiety over four years

PainSci » bibliography » Gerrits et al 2015

Two pages on PainSci cite Gerrits 2015: 1. The Complete Guide to Low Back Pain2. Does anxiety cause back pain?

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

OBJECTIVE: Many patients with depression and/or anxiety (D/A) persistently report pain. However, it is not clear how the course of D/A is associated with pain over time. The present study assessed longitudinal associations between D/A and pain, and compared pain over time between D/A and healthy controls.

METHODS: 2676 participants of the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety were followed-up for four years. At three waves (baseline, 2, 4years) we assessed depressive and anxiety symptom severity. Using DSM-IV criteria, we also assessed four different D/A disorder courses over time (n=2093): incident, remitted, chronic, and no D/A (reference group). Pain was assessed at the three waves by severity and number of locations.

RESULTS: Change in D/A symptoms was positively associated with change in pain symptoms. Compared to healthy controls (n=519), D/A subjects - incident (n=333), remitted (n=548) or chronic (n=693) - reported more severe pain (b=0.4-0.7, p<0.001) and more pain locations (b=0.8-1.4, p<.001) at all waves, with the highest ratings in chronic D/A. Remission of D/A during follow-up was associated with a significant decline in pain (severity; p=0.002, number of locations; p<.001), but pain levels remained significantly higher compared to healthy controls. Findings were similar for separate depression or anxiety course.

CONCLUSIONS: This study largely confirms synchrony of change between depression, anxiety and pain. However, even after depression and anxiety remission, subjects report higher pain ratings over time. Individuals with D/A (history) seem to be at increased risk of chronic pain.

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