To Your Health
June, 2023 (Vol. 17, Issue 06)
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Back Pain and Depression

By Editorial Staff

If you're experiencing back pain and depression, the two could be connected – and the single solution may be chiropractic. That's because new research on the "Bidirectional Comorbid Associations Between Back Pain and Major Depression in US Adults" suggests people with back pain are more likely to also suffer depression – and vice versa.

This study is the first population-based study on the bidirectional comorbid association between these two globally recognized key health problems.1 The goal of the study: "to explore the cross-sectional and longitudinal comorbid associations between major depression and back pain in a national sample of adults in the U.S." using data from the Midlife in the United States Survey (MIDUS). Back pain patients were defined as patients who had experienced back pain "almost every day" or "several times a week" in the previous 30 days (sounds like too many of us).

The study found that "major depression is likely to be prospectively associated with back pain, and that back pain is linked to subsequent major depression." This bidirectional association between back pain and major depression is consistent with findings from previous research.2-3 The study also found that "age was inversely related to major depression" and that "there was a higher proportion of female participants with major depression (24.1%) and a higher proportion of female participants with back pain (14.1%)."

back pain and depression - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Needless to say, these associations between back pain and major depression may have implications for the management of patients with both ailments. As both cause high levels of disability, there is likely a benefit to managing patients with depression by examining their back pain and vice versa. Addressing both complaints simultaneously has the potential to be much more effective than focusing on a single ailment. In other words, if you're suffering from back pain and depression, hope is on the way! Talk to your doctor to learn more.


  1. Yang H, et al. Bidirectional comorbid associations between back pain and major depression in US adults. Int J Environ Res Publ Health, 2023;20(5):4217.
  2. Bener AA, et al. Psychological factors: anxiety, depression, and somatization symptoms in low back pain patients. J Pain Res, 2013;6:95-101.
  3. Hurwitz EL, et al. Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of low-back pain and related disability with psychological distress among patients enrolled in the UCLA Low-Back Pain Study. J Clin Epidemiol, 2003;56:463-471.