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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.

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Depression Glossary

Antidepressant - Anything, and especially a drug, used to prevent or treat depression. Anxiety - A feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, and feelings of stress. Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults and can grow progressively worse if not treated. Bipolar disorder - A form of depressive disease that characteristically involves cycles...

Read the Depression Glossary 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 September 07, 2014

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