December 21, 2015
1 min read

Mental disorders may be early risk factor for chronic pain in adolescents

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Adolescents with affective, anxiety or behavior disorders are at increased risk for chronic pain, according to recently published data.

“Our results corroborate and extend knowledge about the link between chronic pain and mental disorders in adults, which suggests that this relationship forms as early as during childhood through adolescence, with an increasing level of comorbidity in adulthood,” the researchers wrote.

Researchers analyzed data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement, WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interviews and self- and parent reports to assess the prevalence and association between mental disorders and lifetime chronic pain in adolescents aged 13 to 18 years (n = 6,483).

Nearly 26% of participants reported having experienced any type of chronic pain and mental disorder in their lifetime.

There were strong associations between affective disorders and headaches and any chronic pain; between anxiety disorders and chronic back or neck pain, headaches and any chronic pain; and between behavior disorders and headaches and any chronic pain. Additionally, any mental disorder was associated with chronic back or neck pain, headaches and any chronic pain, according to the researchers.

The researchers noted that these findings highlight the urgent need for additional research and clinical guidelines that focus on the association between chronic pain and mental disorders.

“These findings highlight the relevance of mental disorders in adolescence for pain research and suggest promoting a stronger collaboration of specialists dealing with mental health and pain care, aiming at improving prevention and intervention for chronic pain,” the researchers concluded. – by Casey Hower

Disclosures: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.