A lateralized model of the pain-depression dyad


Maallo AMS, Moulton EA, Sieberg CB, Giddon DB, Borsook D, Holmes SA. A lateralized model of the pain-depression dyad. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2021;127:876-883.

Date Published:

2021 08


Chronic pain and depression are two frequently co-occurring and debilitating conditions. Even though the former is treated as a physical affliction, and the latter as a mental illness, both disorders closely share neural substrates. Here, we review the association of pain with depression, especially when symptoms are lateralized on either side of the body. We also explore the overlapping regions in the forebrain implicated in these conditions. Finally, we synthesize these findings into a model, which addresses gaps in our understanding of comorbid pain and depression. Our lateralized pain-depression dyad model suggests that individuals diagnosed with depression should be closely monitored for pain symptoms in the left hemibody. Conversely, for patients in pain, with the exception of acute pain with a known source, referrals in today's pain centers for psychological evaluation should be part of standard practice, within the framework of an interdisciplinary approach to pain treatment.

Last updated on 08/31/2021