Psychiatric symptoms and distress differ between patients with postherpetic neuralgia and peripheral vestibular disease

Michael R. Clark, Leslie J. Heinberg, Jennifer A. Haythornthwaite, Amy L. Quatrano-Piacentini, Marco Pappagallo, Srinivasa N. Raja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objective: No previous studies have investigated the psychiatric characteristics of patients with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). Similarly, no studies have been performed on patients with different chronic somatic symptoms due to a defined medical disease to compare the characteristics of psychiatric morbidity associated with each etiology. Methods: After completing the subscales of the Symptom Checklist 90-R, a psychiatrist administered the Diagnostic Interview Schedule to all subjects. The psychiatric comorbidity in 35 patients with pain due to PHN was compared with a control group of 34 patients with the nonpainful aversive symptom of vertigo due to a peripheral vestibular disorder that caused unilateral hypofunction. Results: PHN patients had significantly more symptoms of major depression and somatization disorder. No significant differences were found between groups for psychiatric diagnoses. Patients with PHN reported significantly lessacutely distressing somatic symptoms. Conclusion: These results suggest that the psychiatric symptoms of patients with PHN are distinct from nonspecific acute distress and may be related to the experience of suffering from chronic neuropathic pain. Patients with PHN may not meet criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis, but their psychiatric comorbidity places them at substantial risk for increased pain, suicidal ideation, sustained disability, and the numerous complications of excessive medical evaluation and treatment. Patients with PHN should be evaluated specifically for psychiatric symptoms to reduce potential negative consequences through appropriate treatment. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-57
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Postherpetic neuralgia
  • Vertigo
  • Vestibular disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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