The silent link between chronic pain and depression

Chronic pain and depression are not just individual health concerns—they’re major culprits behind decreased workplace productivity.

Let’s dive into the facts and the impact of these often-overlooked conditions on both employees and employers.

Clinical studies consistently show a strong association between chronic pain and depression. People suffering from chronic pain are more likely to be depressed, and vice versa. Over 50% of adults with chronic pain experience anxiety and depression, according to the American Psychological Association. This interplay creates a vicious cycle, leading to increased medical expenses and decreased productivity. As a result, musculoskeletal (MSK) pain and mental health are becoming top concerns for employers.

The scope of the problem

According to a recent survey by Business Group on Health, 76% of employers said that musculoskeletal conditions are responsible for the most healthcare costs. Additionally, depression affects nearly one in five US adults. The impact is significant, with depression leading to a staggering 200 million lost workdays each year, costing employers up to $44 billion annually, as reported by the CDC.

The double-edged sword for employers

  1. Complicated recovery process
    Pain and depression complicate and hinder the recovery process as each condition appears to increase the severity of the other. For instance, the onset of major depression may cause people to drop out of pain rehabilitation programs. This can lead to extended periods of employee absenteeism and low work productivity.
  2. Higher medical costs
    People suffering from chronic pain who also exhibit depressive symptoms become heavy consumers of medical services, resulting in higher medical costs for employers. In fact, a 2009 study found that for patients with both major depressive disorder and disabling chronic pain, total annual costs were more than 37% higher than for patients with major depressive disorder and no chronic pain.
  3. MSK treatment needs a whole-body approach
    Given the intertwined nature of chronic pain and depression, it’s crucial for employers to choose solutions that take a comprehensive approach to MSK treatment. By addressing both conditions simultaneously, employers can reduce medical spend and improve employee productivity and well-being.
    Chronic pain and depression are not just individual health issues but significant barriers to workplace productivity.

Employers need to recognize the interconnectedness of these conditions and invest in comprehensive solutions that address both to foster a healthier, more productive workforce.

Dario has extensive experience in both musculoskeletal and behavioral health, with proven results that demonstrate meaningful outcomes.

Learn more by requesting a demo today.

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