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Pain Research and Management
Volume 3 (1998), Issue 3, Pages 135-144
Original Article

Pain Correlates of Depressed Mood

Trudi M Walsh, Chloé P Smith, and Patrick J McGrath

Psychology Department, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Received 26 August 1997; Revised 27 August 1998

Copyright © 1998 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVE: To provide an initial indication of the intensity and quality of pain in young adults reporting depressed mood and to investigate possible underlying mechanisms.

DESIGN: Case-control study.

SETTING: University undergraduate subject pool.

PARTICIPANTS: Sixty introductory psychology undergraduates classified as either reporting high levels of depressed mood (n=30; age 18.7±0.87 years, mean ± SD) or reporting low levels of depressed mood (n=30; age 18.6±0.81 years).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Beck Depression Inventory, Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire, Pain Catastrophizing Scale, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and pressure dolorimeter pain thresholds.

RESULTS: Young adults reporting high levels of depressed mood had significantly higher pain intensity at testing time, as measured by a visual analogue scale (P=0.015) and a present pain index (P=0.002), affective pain intensity for the previous month (P=0.000), pain catastrophizing (P=0.025) and global sleep disturbance (P=0.000) than young adults reporting low levels of depressed mood. Within the group of young adults reporting high levels of depressed mood, significantly higher sleep disturbance scores (P=0.020) were identified in those reporting high levels of overall pain intensity.

CONCLUSIONS: The results are discussed in terms of their implications for research as well as for the assessment and treatment of pain in individuals with depression.