Genetics found to influence risk of chronic pain and depression

Your genetics, whether your partner suffers from chronic pain and the environment you share with your partner, all contribute to your 10192015_Icons_Set1_Working.aiown risk for having the condition, according to a new study into the complex mix of environmental and genetic factors that influence both the risk for chronic pain and for depression.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh also found that the two conditions share some of the same environmental and genetic associations.

“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,” study author Andrew McIntosh said in a University of Edinburgh news release.

Published in PLOS Medicine, the study relied on data from Generation Scotland, a Scottish Family Health History study, as well as data from the UK Biobank. In a separate study, researchers from 23andMe, Massachusetts General Hospital and Pfizer conducted genome wide association studies using data from 23andMe customers, who consented to participate in research. They found that chronic pain could arise through the combined effect of many genetic factors. They also found that the risk for chronic pain is heightened if there is also a genetic risk for depression.

All of this is of interest because health researchers have seen that chronic pain and depression often go hand-in-hand. While some of the links between the two conditions are quite evident — for example, dealing with a painful and debilitating injury can take a toll on even the most resilient individuals and their partners. But independent of those issues this study found that other factors are also at play.

“Chronic pain is caused by an accumulation of many small genetic effects and is associated with some of the same genetic and environmental risk factors that confer risk of depression,” according to the researchers, adding that “both genetic factors and chronic pain in a partner or spouse contribute to the risk of chronic pain for an individual.”

By identifying those shared contributions, researchers said they hoped it would help in the search for new approaches for treating depression and chronic pain.

The study can be found in the PLoS Genetics.

  • S Smith

    If a patient has Chronic Pain for five years then he or she may get depressed. No questions asked. The continuous feelings of needle-like pain in the body are a constant reminder of the time before chronic pain. The patient may end up cursing them for it too. Chronic pain at an early age may make patients depressed over the years because it may prevent them from many adventurous activities or desires. Thanks for sharing the blog.

  • R Hullinger

    I’ve been told by the doctor that handles the treatment of my Fibromyalgia and Osteoarthritis, that there is no inherited genes connecting people with Fibromyalgia and Osteoarthritis. So I dropped the subject with him. But I would like to know why everyone who has it is connected to my maternal grandfather’s side of the family?

  • GinaC

    I have fibromyalgia, and though I only have non-identifying information about my birth parents, the documents do say that my uncle had “rheumatism”.

  • Mary

    I live with chronic intractable daily migraines. There is no surgery for this. Opioids can be used correctly despite the CDC’s warning tactics that only instigate more depression in the chonic pain community. It will be those helpful opiates they are taking properly that will be cut off. I do not believe in all cases the celebrities pain was so severe, they took the extra opioids that killed them. There are far too many other factors involved, i.e, depression level, mixing in benzodiazepines and other drugs, timing between redosing, etc. Depression and medication use both need to be addressed properly in order to have an effective chronic pain management plan.

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