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Chronic pain linked to partners of people with depression

Aug 2016: CCBS researchers have published research indicating that the partners of people with depression are more likely to suffer from chronic pain.

Professor Andrew McIntosh and colleagues have led a new study demonstrating a novel link between depression and chronic pain. Using data from more than 100,000 participants in large nationwide health studies, Generation Scotland and UK Biobank, the team analysed genetic background plus people's experiences of pain and depression.

The findings revealed that chronic pain is caused partly by genetic make-up and partly by as-yet-unidentified environmental risk factors that are shared jointly by partners or spouses. They also identified significant overlaps between the risk factors for chronic pain and depression.

We hope our research will encourage people to think about the relationship between chronic pain and depression and whether physical and mental illnesses are as separate as some believe.

Professor Andrew McIntoshChair of Biological Psychiatry, CCBS

Chronic pain is a common cause of disability but little is known about what causes it. This research will bring a new understanding of why some people suffer from the condition and not others.

Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow collaborated on the project. The study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Related links

Read the article in PLOS Medicine: Genetic and Environmental Risk for Chronic Pain and the Contribution of Risk Variants for Major Depressive Disorder: A Family-Based Mixed-Model Analysis

Professor Andrew McIntosh Principal Investigator profile

Complex trait genetics research in CCBS

Generation Scotland website

UK Biobank website