Living with comorbid Chronic pain and depression: A multiple case study

Shelagh Smith

Purpose: A preliminary inquiry to describe the experience of living with comorbid depression and chronic pain and expectations for personal recovery was undertaken. Mental health clinicians acknowledge the complexity of comorbid depression and chronic pain and seek the best approaches to alleviate distress and support personal recovery within the context of a mental health and addictions service.

Methods: A multiple case study involving people with comorbid chronic pain and depression, a family member and clinician. Data collected from semi-structured interviews was thematically analyzed within and among cases, and among participants.

Findings: Four themes highlighted the experience and expectations for recovery: importance of connections, the struggle to move from a pain-centered to a function-centered life, empowerment and seeking wellness.

Conclusion: People with chronic pain and depression benefited from existing mental health programs but the study suggested integration of pain self-management; evidence-based psychological therapy; and family involvement may be of value.