Depressed girls suffer the most

February 12, 2014

Seven out of 10 adolescents with mental health problems also suffer from chronic physical pain. Depressed girls suffer the most.

For the first time researchers have studied the kind of that troubles with different problems.

Professor Marit Sæbø Indredavik at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) thinks that everyone working in the health care system, from medical doctors to psychologists, must be more aware of the that can plague young people with mental health woes.

From anxiety to ADHD

The researchers gave a questionnaire to 566 teenagers between 13 and 18 years old, all of whom had conditions ranging from ADHD and depression to anxiety, eating disorders and a range of autistic disorders.

The teens were asked whether or not they had physical pain, and if so, what kind of pain and where it was located. All the youths were participants in a larger health survey conducted by St Olavs Hospital in Trondheim, Norway from 2009-2011.

Seven out of ten answered that they suffered from chronic pain. Among depressed adolescents, the percentage was even higher, with eight out of ten reporting chronic pain, most often musculoskeletal pain. Girls reported having pain more often than boys, no matter their mental health diagnosis.

Must be treated concurrently

"These numbers are so high that the entire support system for children and adolescents needs to be made more aware of the link between physical pain and psychiatric disorders. Physical pain is most common among who have conditions such as anxiety and depression, where they tend to be more focused on their problems. This is not a surprise, but it is a clear signal that we need to keep this in mind when treating mental health problems," says Indredavik.

Indredavik is one of the main contributors to the survey, along with PhD candidate Wenche Langfjord Mangerud at NTNU. They both work at NTNU's Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare. Mangerud emphasizes that physical pain and mental conditions cannot be treated separately.

Hard to cure

"Both anxiety and depression on their own can decrease the quality of life for these adolescents. Now we see that they also suffer from chronic pain. To treat anxiety in a positive way, physical pain must also be treated and vice versa. It is important that treatment in their younger years be effective, so that these problems don't continue into adulthood, as they unfortunately often do," says Mangerud.

She emphasizes that the must at the very least find out if adolescents also have physical pain. If they do they must receive the right treatment. Their should work with physiotherapists.

"Unfortunately there are too few physiotherapists working in child and adolescent psychiatry, but you can find them elsewhere in the health care system. It is important that the providers work more closely so that both body and mind are taken care of," says Indredavik.

Mangerud will now study physical activity among adolescents with , compared to adolescents who are free from these disorders.

Explore further: Adolescents and young adults with mental health disorders at risk of long-term opioid use

More information: The article describing this research was published in BMC Psychiatry and is entitled: Chronic pain and pain-related disability across psychiatric disorders in a clinical adolescent sample, by Wenche L Mangerud, Ottar Bjerkeset, Stian Lydersen and Marit S Indredavik. It can be found at:

Related Stories

Jaw pain disorder tied to anxiety, depression

January 23, 2013

(HealthDay)—There's a link between depression and anxiety symptoms and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder pain, a condition that affects the jaw, according to a new study.

Most teen mental health problems go untreated

November 18, 2013

More than half of adolescents with psychiatric disorders receive no treatment of any sort, says a new study by E. Jane Costello, a Duke University professor of psychology and epidemiology and associate director of the Duke ...

Recommended for you

Repeating aloud to another person boosts recall

October 6, 2015

Repeating aloud boosts verbal memory, especially when you do it while addressing another person, says Professor Victor Boucher of the University of Montreal's Department of Linguistics and Translation. His findings are the ...

Men more likely to be seen as 'creative thinkers'

September 28, 2015

People tend to associate the ability to think creatively with stereotypical masculine qualities, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The findings ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.