Pain, stress, and anxiety interrelationships and treatment necessities

Robert M.A. Hirschfeld, David L. Ginsberg, Steven E. Bruce, David L. Dunner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anxiety is a natural reaction to stress, but in some individuals it can develop into a psychopathological condition that persists even after the stress has been resolved, The number of and amount of difficulty associated with stressful life events can be a significant predictor for the development of depression or anxiety-related disorders. Individuals suffering from anxiety disorders are more likely to report exposure to stressful events than nonanxious individuals. These relationships are even stronger when anxiety and major depression are comorbid within individuals. In addition, anxiety and depression are prominent in many patients with pain disorders, The presence of pain can be seen not only as a possible marker for anxiety, but also as a causative factor. In either of these cases, the presence of persistent painful symptoms should be a strong indication to clinicians that an anxiety disorder may develop or may already be present, and that treatment is needed for both the pain symptoms and the comorbid anxiety. With daily life becoming increasingly more stressful, the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety spectrum disorders become more important. Treating these disorders early can prevent generalized anxiety from developing into more disabling disorders. This monograph reviews the relationship between stressful life events and anxiety as well as comorbidity of pain and anxiety, and examines the somatic symptoms, such as muscle aches, chest pain, and headaches, often associated with anxiety disorders. Available treatments that may be efficacious in the treatment of individuals experiencing comorbid anxiety and pain are discussed as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalPrimary Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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