A new study finds that partners of people with depression are more likely to suffer from chronic pain. Researchers discovered the two conditions share common causes as the disorders are linked to genetic and environment factors.
Experts say their findings shed new light on chronic pain and could one day help to develop better diagnostic tests and treatments.
University of Edinburgh researchers studied information from more than 100,000 people taking part in large nationwide health studies.
The team analyzed people’s genetic background as well as details about their experiences of pain and depression. Their findings revealed that chronic pain is caused partly by someone’s genetic make-up and partly by as yet unidentified risk factors that are shared jointly by partners or spouses.
Investigators also identified significant overlaps between the risk factors for chronic pain and depression.
Chronic pain is a common cause of disability but little is known about what causes it. Scientists believe the research will bring a new understanding of why some people suffer from the condition and not others.
Investigators assessed data from the Generation Scotland and UK Biobank projects, major studies investigating genetic links to health conditions.
The study was a multidisciplinary collaboration including the Universities of Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow. Research findings appear in the journal PLOS Medicine.
Professor Andrew McIntosh, chair of biological psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, said, “We hope our research will encourage people to think about the relationship between chronic pain and depression and whether physical and mental illnesses are as separate as some believe.”