HealthDay News — Mental disorders seem to be associated with chronic pain in adolescents, according to a study published recently in The Journal of Pain.

Marion Tegethoff, PhD, from the University of Basel in Switzerland, and colleagues examined the correlation between and the sequence of onset of chronic pain and mental disorders in adolescents. Data were obtained for 6483 participants, aged 13 to 18 years, from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement.

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The researchers found that 25.93% of the 6476 participants in the study had experienced any type of chronic pain and any mental disorder in their lifetime. There was a correlation between all type of pain and mental disorders. 

Onset of mental disorders before chronic pain onset exhibited the most substantial temporal correlations; these included correlations between affective disorders and headaches and any chronic pain; correlations between anxiety disorders and chronic back/neck pain, headaches, and any chronic pain; correlations between behavior disorders and headaches and any chronic pain; and correlations between any mental disorder and chronic back/neck pain, headaches, and any chronic pain.

“Findings indicate that affective, anxiety, and behavior disorders are early risk factors of chronic pain, thereby highlighting the relevance of child mental disorders for pain medicine,” the authors write. “To improve prevention and interventions for chronic pain, integrative care should be considered.”


Tegethoff M, Belardi A, Stalujanis E, Meinlschmidt G. Comorbidity of Mental Disorders and Chronic Pain: Chronology of Onset in Adolescents of a National Representative Cohort. Clin. J. Pain. 2015;16(10):1054-1064. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2015.06.009.