The pain and depressive symptoms cascade: A bidirectional analysis of the Mexican Health and Aging Study 2012–2015

Sirena Gutierrez, Rebeca Wong, Sadaf Arefi Milani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: The association of pain and depression has not been evaluated in low- and middle-income countries, which have a disproportionate burden of pain compared to high-income countries. Methods: Using data from the Mexican Health and Aging Study (baseline, 2012; follow-up, 2015), we examined the bidirectional relationship between pain and depressive symptoms and identified shared predictors among community-dwelling participants ≥60 years (n = 7237). Multivariable logistic regressions models evaluated the association between (1) baseline pain and incident elevated depressive symptoms and (2) baseline depressive symptoms and incident pain, adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, and health-related factors. Models included inverse probability weights and evaluated interactions by gender. Results: Participants (55.0% women) were on average 69.1 years old. Over half reported no pain (60.7%) and low/no depressive symptoms (67.9%) in 2012, of which, 20.2% reported elevated depressive symptoms and 25.3% self-reported pain in 2015. Baseline pain was associated with higher odds of incident elevated depressive symptoms (aOR 1.65; 95% CI, 1.41–1.93). Baseline elevated depressive symptoms were associated with higher odds of developing pain (aOR 1.57; 95% CI, 1.32–1.87). Age, gender, self-rated health, and activity of daily living limitations were shared risk factors for pain and elevated depressive symptomatology onset. Although the incidence of elevated depressive symptoms and pain was higher in women, there were no statistically significant interactions. Conclusions: Older adults with pain or depression may be at risk for developing the other. These shared predictors could help identify patients in clinical settings, where pain and depression are often overlooked, reducing the cascading risk of this comorbidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberGPS5812
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • depression
  • epidemiology
  • minority aging
  • multimorbidities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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