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Chronic pain sufferers more vulnerable to suicide than others

Many who suffer from severe back pain describe it as crippling or debilitating. Very few of us heard it called deadly, though. The truth is that it might as well be, especially considering how research shows that those who suffer from chronic pain also have a higher risk of becoming depressed and suicidal.

During the past few years, epidemiologists at universities in both North America and Europe have been studying the connection between patients' physical pain and psychological health.

University of Pennsylvania researchers were among the first to find that those with chronic pain were more apt to have mental health concerns than others who weren't experiencing the same level of discomfort. Researchers at Stellenbosch University determined that patients with chronic pain experience up to 10 times the amount of depression or anxiety than others.

Another finding that has emerged from these many studies is that those with pain experience are two times more likely to commit suicide than those who don't experience the same symptoms.

One researcher suggested that this research should motivate some doctors to evaluate patients with chronic pain for psychological conditions. They note, however, that this rarely occurs. She emphasizes that if doctors focused more on providing patients with psychological treatment as opposed to only pain management, they could potentially be better off.

She noted that diagnosing a patient with depression isn't easy, especially when the patient also suffers from chronic pain. The reason that it's so difficult to do is because both conditions share similar symptoms, including fluctuations in energy or libido, appetite and weight and sleep.

Back pain patients who have previously attempted suicide or have a family history of it are at significant risk for becoming suicidal themselves. Those who exhibit aggressive or impulsive behaviors, resist the help of others or have problems with substance or alcohol abuse are more apt to have suicidal thoughts than others as well.

Anyone who experiences a sudden loss in their social life, family or work should seek treatment from a psychiatrist or psychologist immediately. These are signs of depression and may propel someone to end their life.

If they were hurt on the job, then it may also be helpful for them to sit down with a St. Louis Social Security disability benefits attorney who can explain their right to compensation to cover their basic needs.

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