Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression are commonly experienced by individuals living with accident or trauma related chronic pain.

However, how PTSD relates to mood disorders and pain severity in chronic pain patients has remained a mystery.

As a result, scientists from the University of Michigan researchers examined the contribution of PTSD to the pain experience, functional disability and frequency of depressive symptoms.

They studied 241 patients referred to the university hospital’s pain rehabilitation program who reported their pain began after a traumatic injury. The subjects completed the McGill Pain Questionnaire and were administered the Pain Disability Index and the Post-traumatic Chronic Pain Test.

Results showed PTSD and depression are significantly correlated and both disorders are associated with perceived disability attributed to chronic pain.

Therefore, in cases of disabling accident-related chronic pain with comorbid depression, symptoms of PTSD may be critical to understanding both disorders.

The authors concluded that increased attention to treating PTSD as a primary focus in the rehabilitation of patients with chronic pain and comorbid depression is important when prior treatment efforts for pain and depression have not been successful.

Source: American Pain Society