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The interesting tie between chronic pain and depression

For many medical conditions, there is clear evidence that either supports or disproves a diagnosis. If someone has cancer, for example, doctors can run tests and find cancer cells. If someone becomes paralyzed, doctors can run tests and find damage to the spinal cord. When someone is in pain, there aren't always tests available that confirm or deny that someone is feeling pain. Even if there are physical signs of pain, it isn't always clear just how much pain a person is feeling. Perhaps this is one the reasons why some people doubt others' claims of chronic pain.

Yet chronic pain is a serious medical condition and one that can often leave people unable to work. When someone's pain is so severe that he or she can no longer hold down a job, he or she may need disability benefits.

There are some doctors who believe, surprisingly, that antidepressants may help people living with chronic pain. The idea is that people with depression have a more difficult time distracting themselves from the pain they feel and that they are more at risk of feeling pain. If doctors can treat these people's depression, they may be able to help to lessen their pain, too.

It is unclear if there are studies that back this up, but it may provide some relief to people in New Jersey living with chronic pain.

There are a number of medical conditions that cause chronic pain, any of which could potentially be used to apply for disability benefits.

Source: PBS Newshour, "Can antidepressants offer hope to those suffering chronic pain?" Ruth Tam, July 9, 2014

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