Health Matters

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Pain and Depression

Symptoms from one cause often mimic the symptoms of another cause.

I found this article recently and wanted to share it with readers, as I have many patients who fit this profile. In the Harvard Mental Health Newsletter (9/04), it is noted that, “Pain, especially chronic pain, is an emotional condition as well as a physical sensation. It is a complex experience that affects thought, mood, and behavior and can lead to isolation, immobility, and drug dependence.


In those ways, it resembles depression, and the relationship is intimate. Pain is depressing, and depression causes and intensifies pain. People with chronic pain have three times the average risk of developing psychiatric symptoms — usually mood or anxiety disorders — and depressed patients have three times the average risk of developing chronic pain.”


This is why the treating physician should take a full medical history, test metabolic systems, and do a partial physical exam when trying to accurately diagnosis and thought, mood, or behavioral disorder if pain or other metabolic issues are known or suspected issues. Symptoms from one cause often mimic symptoms from a completely different cause. Identifying the correct cause leads to the best method of treating and eliminating the symptoms.


Robert J. Hedaya, M.D., D.F.A.P.A., is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Georgetown University Hospital and Founder of the National Center for Whole Psychiatry.


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