There is a known association between depression and pain but is there also a connection between bipolar disorder and pain?

Chronic pain has a strong association with major depressive disorder (MDD), but there is a relative paucity of studies on the association between chronic multisite pain and bipolar disorder (BD). This article describes a study that highlights that chronic multisite pain commonly co-occurs with mood disorders, particularly bipolar disorder. Individuals who report chronic pain and multiple sites of pain are more likely to have major depression and are at higher risk of bipolar disorder compared to the general population.

The risk of a probable mood disorder classification increased in proportion to the number of sites of chronic pain reported. In other words, the more sites of chronic pain, the more likely someone is to have depression and/or bipolar disorder. These findings highlight the importance of an adequate assessment of the nature and extent of pain in patients who have either bipolar disorder or major depression. There may be shared genetic and biomarker risk factors for chronic pain and mood disorders which may explain why these conditions are occur so commonly together. Clinicians should consider the use of a pain screening instrument or a pain rating instrument to identify symptoms that may not be brought up during interview. Recommended instruments that can be used in the office setting include the Brief Pain Inventory or the Initial Pain Assessment Inventory.

Access “Chronic multisite pain in major depression and bipolar disorder: cross-sectional study of 149,611 participants in UK Biobank” at: https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-014-0350-4

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