Studies Show Both Chronic Pain and Depression Linked to Genetics

Young man holding his back in pain, isolated on white background

New studies have shown that depression and chronic pain often occur together, and both conditions are known to complicate and worsen the other illnesses.

Globally, one in every 10 adults are diagnosed with chronic pain each year. But these recent studies have come to the conclusion that chronic pain may be more hereditary than originally thought.

In general, 30% of all chronic pain diagnoses are related to genetics. This goes for depression as well, as 37% of all cases are hereditary.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom researched genetic and environmental influences on depression and chronic pain. They used data from two U.K. studies — Generation Scotland and the U.K. Biobanks projects– and studied the data of over 100,000 participants.

Overall, their findings agreed with their hypothesis that people with depression were more likely to experience chronic pain. Not only did they find that genetics played a role in 38.4% of all depression cases, but that partners and spouses of those who suffered from depression were also experiencing risk factors as well.

These risk factors were unidentified, but the findings showed that romantic partners of those who suffered from depression and/or chronic illness happened to share the same symptoms of those who were affected.

The findings by the University of Edinburgh was published earlier this month in PLOS Medicine. There is hope that this study may be able to pave the way towards more effective treatments in the future.

As reported by Medical News Today, Professor Andrew McIntosh, chair of Biological Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh and a researcher on the study explains, “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.”

For treatment purposes, a full 25% of patients with chronic pain conditions have visited a chiropractor or a doctor that specializes in pain management. Chiropractic therapy is so popular that in Florida alone, there are about 32,080 practicing chiropractors.