There is increasing recognition that pain often coexists with depression. the current survey was undertaken to ascertain patients’ and clinicians’ perceptions of pain as a physical symptom associated with depression.
Web-based surveys were undertaken for patients with depression, and for physicians treating patients with depression (psychiatrists, psychosomatic physicians, general internists).
848 patients aged 20–59 years entered the main survey, of whom 663 returned the completed survey (78.2%). of the respondents, 424 (64.0%) experienced at least one painful symptom, with almost three-quarters (72.1%) reporting that the pain affected mental symptoms and 68.6% indicating that it prevented recovery from depression itself. Among 337 patients who discussed their painful symptoms with their physician, 52.5% initiated the discussion.
456 physicians completed the physician survey. When asked about the influence of pain associated with depression, 61.7% of physicians indicated that they ask their patients about pain during a consultation, and 79.9% considered that painful symptoms might disturb the patients’ daily life and 52.8% felt that they would delay recovery from depression.
The survey provides further evidence of the association between depression and pain, highlighting the fact that pain is prevalent in this patient population. Increased patient and physician awareness of pain in association with depression and improved doctor-patient communication, enabling patients to discuss painful symptoms with their physicians, and vice-versa, should lead to better overall management and treatment strategies.