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Aching Mind, Aching Back

The typical portrait of depression is an individual with slumped shoulders, slow, purposeless movement and a defeated look on his or her face. While there are a number of potential consequences of depression - some fairly benign, and some more complex and debilitating - you might be surprised to know that depression could actually be associated with back pain.

In a study recently conducted by a team of health care and geriatrics specialists, 744 members of a large health plan 70 years and older were given a baseline assessment that included evaluation of demographic, medical, physical and cognitive status.

Their depressive symptoms were defined based on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies - Depression Scale (CES-DS).

At baseline, 153 of the subjects were found to be depressed; over a 12-month follow-up period, 186 participants reported disabling back pain during one to two months, with 91 reporting back pain during three months. The researchers' conclusion? The presence of depressive symptoms was independently associated with the occurrence of disabling back pain, and was a strong factor for the occurrence of disabling back pain in community-dwelling older persons.

Depression and back pain can be disabling, independent of one another; but when the two are combined, the results can be potentially devastating. Talk to your doctor if you're suffering from symptoms of depression, and if you also have back pain, schedule regular appointments with your chiropractor.

To learn more about back pain, go to


Reid CR, et al. Depressive symptoms as a risk factor for disabling back pain in community-dwelling older persons. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Dec. 2003;51(12), pp1710.