Perspectives on pain and depression

Michael R. Clark, Glenn J. Treisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The health care system is often unsuccessful in the treatment of the patient experiencing chronic pain. Chronic pain is often complicated by a variety of psychiatric conditions that make it difficult to engage and treat patients. This generates frustration and pessimism in the physician. The patient may be afflicted by the syndrome of an affective disorder, demoralized by the unintended circumstances of their life, unable to meet the demands of stressors because of a lack of inherent capacities, or helplessly trapped by poor choices and repeated unproductive actions. The physician's interest and the patient's optimism can be restored and sustained by utilizing a systematic interdisciplinary approach utilizing the four perspectives of diseases, life stories, dimensions, and behaviors to evaluate the patient who is disabled by depression and chronic pain. The design of a comprehensive treatment plan involves the determination of each perspective's contribution to the patient's suffering. The process of formulation recognizes that the perspectives are distinct from one another but complementary in illuminating the various reasons for a patient's suffering. The perspectives offer a recipe for designing a rational treatment plan rather than trying to reduce the individual patient's complexity into a one-dimensional construct. This approach increases the probability of a successful outcome for both patient and physician.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalAdvances in psychosomatic medicine
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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