Heterogeneous depression responses to chronic pain onset among middle-aged adults: a prospective study

Psychiatry Res. 2014 Jun 30;217(1-2):60-6. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2014.03.004. Epub 2014 Mar 11.


Studies on depression response to chronic pain are limited by lack of clarification of different forms of response patterns and cross-sectional measures. The current study examined heterogeneous long-term patterns of depression response to chronic pain onset prospectively using the mixture modeling technique. Depression symptoms prior to and following pain onset over a course of six years were charted in a nationally representative middle-aged sample. Four distinct depression symptom trajectories emerged. The resilience (72.0%) trajectory describes a pattern of no/minimal depression symptoms prior to and following pain onset. The post-pain depression trajectory (11.4%) describes a pattern of low depression at baseline and increasing symptoms following pain onset. The chronic depression (6.8%) trajectory is characterized by persistently high depression symptoms irrespective of pain onset. The prior depression improved (9.8%) trajectory describes a pattern of high depression at baseline and gradually declining symptoms following pain onset. Self-rated health at both baseline and following pain onset predicted the resilience trajectory. Baseline self-rated health distinguished the post-pain depression and chronic depression trajectories. Individuals in the prior depression improved trajectory were older and had more chronic illnesses at baseline but fewer illnesses following pain onset, compared to those in the resilience or post-pain depression trajectory.

Keywords: Depression trajectories; Functional impairment; Pain–depression comorbidity; Population study; Self-rated health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain / complications*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Depression / complications*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Report