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Depression And Anxiety Are Common With Chronic Pain Disorders


Depression and anxiety can play a role in applications for disability benefits for chronic pain disorders and other serious medical conditions.

It’s no surprise that chronic pain disorders, depression and anxiety go hand in hand. After all, chronic pain can affect sleep, cause mood fluctuations, and limit people’s daily activities, work and recreation. If you have depression or anxiety with an illness or injury that causes debilitating chronic pain, your mental condition can play a role in your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Types Of Chronic Pain

  • Chronic pain is challenging to live with. Chronic pain can involve:
  • Chronic pain syndrome, a diagnosis that can involve one of many conditions that typically do not respond well to medical treatments
  • Fibromyalgia, a chronic disease that can cause fatigue and widespread pain
  • Back pain, which is considered the leading cause of disability worldwide and is more common in people with anxiety and depression
  • Arthritis, which actually includes more than 100 associated inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis

As anyone with one of these medical diagnoses knows, the pain can be isolating and debilitating. It can be even more difficult for a person to function with these diseases when anxiety, depression or another mental health diagnosis is present.

Chronic Pain And Depression

The relationship between depression and chronic pain and illness is well-documented. According to the American Chiropractic Association, between 30 and 80 percent of people with chronic pain also have depression, and the combination of illnesses can result in greater disability than either condition would cause on its own.

People with chronic pain live with changes to their body, mental state and social circles. Pain can keep them from sleeping and make it hard to concentrate or hold down a job. These changes can create a cycle of pain that leads to depression, which can lead to more chronic pain.

Chronic Pain And Anxiety

Although the link between pain and depression is well-documented, researchers say anxiety also has significant connections to chronic pain and pain disorders. Last year, researchers who evaluated patients at a Midwestern veterans medical center concluded that patients who have chronic pain should also be evaluated for anxiety disorders.

The study found that 45 percent of patients being treated for pain also tested positive for one or more anxiety disorders. Pain patients with an anxiety disorder generally had more pain and poorer quality of life.

Pain, Mental Conditions And Disability Benefits

The relationship between anxiety, depression and pain disorders has implications for treatment of these disabling medical conditions. It can also affect claims for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Both SSDI and SSI require applicants to prove that they have medical impairments that prevent them from working any kind of a job. The medical impairments must be expected to last for at least a year or be fatal.

Applicants can prove their medical impairments are severe enough in two ways. First, if your medical condition meets the specifications of Social Security’s listing of impairments, Social Security will consider you unable to work.

If your medical condition does not meet a condition in the listing of impairments, you may be able to prove that you are disabled by showing how your medical condition equals a condition on the list or prevents you from working.

Contact An Attorney

You may be unlikely to obtain disability benefits based on your chronic pain diagnosis or depression or anxiety alone. But an experienced attorney can help you demonstrate that multiple medical conditions prevent you from working.

Keywords: Social Security Disability Insurance, disability benefits, chronic pain disorders, anxiety, depression

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