Brief Research Report
Self-Reported Pain Complaints among Afghanistan/Iraq Era Men and Women Veterans with Comorbid Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder
Research has shown significant rates of comorbidity among posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and pain in prior era veterans but less is known about these disorders in Iraq and Afghanistan war era veterans. This study seeks to extend previous work by evaluating the association among PTSD, MDD, and pain (back, muscle, and headache pain) in this cohort.
A sample of 1,614 veterans, recruited from 2005 to 2010, completed a structured clinical interview and questionnaires assessing trauma experiences, PTSD symptoms, depressive symptoms, and pain endorsement.
Veterans with PTSD endorsed pain-related complaints at greater rates than veterans without PTSD. The highest rate of pain complaints was observed in veterans with comorbid PTSD/MDD. Women were more likely to endorse back pain and headaches but no gender by diagnosis interactions were significant.
Findings highlight the complex comorbid relationship between PTSD, MDD, and pain among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. This observed association suggests that integrated, multidisciplinary treatments may be beneficial, particularly when multiple psychological and physical health comorbidities are present with pain. Further support may be indicated for ongoing education of mental health and primary care providers about these co-occurring disorders.