Ehnvall A, Mitchell PB, Hadzi-Pavlovic D, Loo C, Breakspear M, Wright A, Roberts G, Frankland A, Corry J. Pain and rejection sensitivity in bipolar depression.
Bipolar Disord 2011: 13: 59–66. © 2011 The Authors.
Journal compilation © 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.
Objectives: Little is known regarding the correlates of pain in bipolar disorder. Recent neuroimaging studies support the contention that depression, as well as pain distress and rejection distress, share the same neurobiological circuits. In a recently published study, we confirmed the hypothesis that perception of increased pain during treatment-refractory depression, predominantly unipolar, was related to increased rejection sensitivity. In the present study, we aimed to test this same hypothesis for bipolar depression.
Methods: The present study analysed data from 67 patients presenting to the Black Dog Institute Bipolar Disorders Clinic in Sydney, Australia. The patients all met DSM-IV criteria for bipolar disorder and had completed a self-report questionnaire regarding perceived pain and rejection sensitivity during depression.
Results: A significant increase in the experience of headaches (p = 0.003) as well as chest pain (p = 0.004) during bipolar depression was predicted by a major increase in rejection sensitivity when depressed, i.e., state rejection sensitivity. Being rejection sensitive in general, i.e., trait rejection sensitivity, did not predict pain during depression.
Conclusions: The experience of increased headaches and chest pain during bipolar depression is related to increased rejection sensitivity during depression. Research to further elucidate this relationship is required.