Monday, June 3, 2013

Psychogenic Pain and Migraines May Increase Suicide Risk

In a large national study of whether experiencing different types of pain posed a subsequent suicide risk, psychogenic pain was found to pose the largest such risk, followed by migraine, and then back pain. No risks were found for arthritis, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, or tension headache pain. "Providers treating patients with these conditions should be aware of the increased risk for suicide observed with these conditions....," the researchers said in their report in JAMA Psychiatry. The lead researcher was Mark Ilgen, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan.

The researchers also speculated on why experiencing psychogenic pain or migraine pain might raise the risk that someone will attempt suicide. Migraine might lead to a dysfunction in the neurotransmitter serotonin, they suggested, and psychogenic pain—pain without a clear physiological cause—might lead to the undertreatment of the pain.

There are multiple strategies that psychiatrists can use to help patients with chronic pain. Read about these in Psychiatric News here and here. More information on this topic is found in American Psychiatric Publishing's Clinical Manual of Pain Management in Psychiatry here. And read about changes found in the brains of suicide completers in the American Journal of Psychiatry here.

(Image: piotr marcinski/


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