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The Link Between Depression and Pain

Physical pain is a common, but often ignored, symptom of depression. A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that two-thirds of people starting treatment for depression also reported being in physical pain. The most commonly cited symptoms were frequent headaches, back pain, joint pain, and abdominal pain.

What's the connection between pain and depression? Research shows that the two share common chemical pathways. The brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine are known to play key roles in depression. Now researchers believe these neurotransmitters also mediate pain.

Recommended Related to Depression

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) for Depression

For some people with severe or hard-to-treat depression, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the best treatment. This treatment, sometimes referred to as "electroshock therapy," is often misunderstood and incorrectly viewed as a harsh, cruel treatment. In actuality, it is painlessly performed under general anesthesia and is considered the most effective treatment for severe depression. It can be lifesaving. ECT works quickly, which is why it's often the treatment of choice for people with highly...

Read the Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) for Depression article > >

The good news? In the study, people who responded well to treatment for depression also reported less pain as they got better.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on July 05, 2012

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