Can Back Pain be Bad for Your Mental Health

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Back pain can be a problem for several reasons beyond the pain itself:  limiting your daily activities, forcing you to take time off work, exposing you to dangers due to overuse of pain-relieving drugs.  However, there is another reason suggested by research:  back pain can increase your risk of suffering mental health problems. 

Who Conducted the Study? 

The data came from the World Health Survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and involved over 200,000 subjects aged 18 and over from 43 countries.   

What did the Study Reveal? 

Compared to people without back pain, those suffering pain were more than twice as likely than those without back pain to have one or more of the following conditions: anxiety, depression, psychosis, stress or sleep deprivation. 

Who Suffered the Most? 

As you might expect, subjects who had suffered back pain for a longer period – three months or more – were the most likely to have mental health issues.  They were more than three times as likely to be depressed than those without back pain and 2.6 times as likely to have psychosis (in other words, to be disconnected from reality). 

What is the Lesson Learned? 

Getting rid of back pain should be a goal, not only for one’s physical health, but as this WHO study showed, should also be a goal for one’s mental health as well. 

Yours for better health, 

Jon Mills, DC