Methods: This qualitative study recruited adults ages 21 to 65 years with self-reported depression and musculoskeletal pain for an individual, semi-structured interview. Data were analyzed using thematic content analysis with themes compared across cases.
Results: Two individuals participated in these interviews. Although the participants appeared similar on 11-point numerical rating scales for pain and depression, their lived experiences of these conditions varied considerably. While Mr. B. described his pain and depression as a ‘deep rut’ characterized by physical limitation and the loss of desire, the metaphor of a ‘vicious circle’ typified the daily life of unpredictable pain and being hard on herself while in the grip of depression for Ms. S. Emergent themes across these cases included the overall experience of living with pain and depression, the mind-body interaction, impact on activities of daily living, and healthcare choices sought as treatment for these conditions.
Discussion: Individual interviews provided rich data that illustrated very different everyday experiences of two people living with co-occurring pain and depression. Clinicians should be sensitive to the words patients use when describing their unique pain and depression manifestations. This whole person approach to treatment may help guide the decision process related to referring or managing patients with co-occurring pain and depression.
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