Kurt Kroenke, MD, says we often make an artificial distinction between physical and psychologic symptoms, when they actually occur together frequently.
Both physical and psychologic symptoms are important, and sometimes we make an artificial distinction between the two. We think of physical symptoms as symptoms of the body and psychologic symptoms like depression and anxiety as symptoms of the mind, but they all have one thing in common. We don’t have a way to measure them with a test, other than what the patient tells us. And frequently they occur together.
So if you’re treating a patient with chronic pain, I think it’s important to think about whether they have depression or anxiety. We’ve developed brief measures for both pain and depression and anxiety. So these are simple tools that a patient can complete and such that if they’re being treated for pain and they’re still not feeling well, sometimes due to depression and anxiety that’s in the background, can be treated to get the best outcomes.
Dr. Kroenke reminds practitioners that persistent pain makes patients susceptible to depression and anxiety.
With pain sometimes we obviously think of where in the body is a person having pain. What’s probably more important than where in the body is whether it becomes chronic or, what we say, persistent. Because whether it’s back pain, whether it’s headache pain, dental pain, arthritis pain, if it persists, there’s things in common. All of the patients who are maybe having chronic pain can be more susceptible to depression or anxiety.