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Papers: 19 Jun 2021 - 25 Jun 2021


Human Studies

2021 Jun 21

Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci

Synergistic effect of chronic pain and nonsuicidal self-harm on pain sensitivity.


Kim DJ, Job A, Gokarakonda S, Huang C, Chekuri L, Carbajal JM, Cáceda R
Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2021 Jun 21.
PMID: 34152490.


Abnormalities in pain processing have been observed in patients with chronic pain conditions and in individuals who engage in self-harm, specifically nonsuicidal self-injurious behaviors (NSSI). Both increased and decreased pain sensitivity have been described in chronic pain patients, while decreased pain sensitivity is consistently observed in individuals with NSSI. The objective of the study was to identify the differential effects of chronic pain and NSSI on experimental pain sensitivity, specifically pressure pain threshold, in depressed patients. Moreover, the role that hopelessness may play between depression severity and pain sensitivity was also examined. Depressed patients with and without chronic pain, and with and without lifetime self-harm behaviors were analyzed into four groups. Group 1 (N = 42) included depressed patients with both Chronic pain ( +) and Self-harm ( +), Group 2 (N = 53) included depressed patients with Chronic pain ( +) but no Self-harm (-), Group 3 (N = 64) included depressed patients without Chronic pain (-), but Self-harm ( +), and Group 4 (N = 81) included depressed patients with neither Chronic pain (-) nor Self-harm (-). Healthy controls (N = 45) were also recruited from the community. Depressed patients with both Chronic pain ( +) and Self-harm ( +) reported higher pressure pain threshold measures when compared with the other groups. Mediation analysis indicated that hopelessness mediates the relationship between depression severity and pressure pain threshold. Our findings suggest that a multiprong approach including adequate mental health services and pain control for depressed patients with comorbid chronic pain and nonsuicidal self-harm is needed to yield effective outcomes.