Antidepressant Therapy Combined with Pain Self-Management Improves Patient Outlook

Pain is the most common reason that an adult will visit a primary care physician. Depression is the most common mental complaint that requires a doctor’s appointment. For as many as half of patients, these often occur together at the same time. Science Daily recently published a release examining a report from researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute. In this report, researchers shared that a closely monitored antidepressant therapy combined with pain self-management could produce significant improvements in both depression and pain. “Treating depression these days is like treating high blood pressure. There are many effective drugs out there. To control high blood pressure, the physician closely monitors the patient to determine the most appropriate drug and the proper dosage,” said the study’s principal investigator, Kurt Kroenke, M.D., professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine and a Regenstrief investigator. “Often with depression treatment, the patient is prescribed one of the many effective antidepressants but is not closely followed to see if it’s the best choice and the proper dosage, which means the patient’s depression is not being effectively managed.” Kroenke noted that there are substantial challenges in treating persistent pain in patients as research on effective pain treatment has lagged a couple of decades behind work on depression. As a result, the drug choices are somewhat lacking. In a monitored study of 250 individuals with persistent pain and at least 50 percent of them suffering from some form of depression, those with depression medications were closely monitored. Those trained in pain self-management were two to three times more likely to have decreased depression than those in the control group. Pain severity and disability also lessoned, demonstrating the power of the combination of antidepressant therapy and pain self-management had been completed.

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