Depression and helplessness impact interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome pain over time


  • Alison Crawford Queen's University
  • Dean A. Tripp
  • J. Curtis Nickel
  • Lesley Carr
  • Robert Moldwin
  • Laura Katz
  • Abi Muere



IC/BPS, pain, depression, helplessness, catastrophizing


Introduction: Interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS) is a devastating urological chronic pelvic pain condition with an unknown etiology. Evidence-based psychological strategies are becoming more successful for symptom management as we learn more about the targets for intervention. Previous research has established an indirect relationship between depression and pain through catastrophizing, but there have yet to be studies examining the emerging role of emotion regulation in this relationship.

Methods: Women with IC/BPS were recruited from tertiary care clinics in Canada and the U.S. between 2013 and 2018. Patients completed questionnaires, including demographics and scores for pain, depression, catastrophizing, and difficulties in emotion regulation at baseline, six months, and one year. Serial mediation was used to test models of pain, catastrophizing, and depression.

Results: A total of 135 women with IC/BPS completed all three time points. The only significant indirect path was from baseline depression to catastrophizing at six months to pain at one year (b=0.10; confidence interval [CI] 0.0049–0.2520). A followup analysis demonstrated that helplessness was the key factor of catastrophizing driving this relationship (b=0.17; CI 0.0282–0.3826).

Conclusions: Reducing feelings of helplessness and increasing patient feelings of control are important ways to limit the effect of low mood on patient pain experience. De-catastrophizing interventions should be part of the referral strategy for IC/BPS symptom management.


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Author Biography

Alison Crawford, Queen's University

Department of Psychology, PhD student



How to Cite

Crawford, A., Tripp, D. A., Nickel, J. C., Carr, L., Moldwin, R., Katz, L., & Muere, A. (2018). Depression and helplessness impact interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome pain over time. Canadian Urological Association Journal, 13(10), 328–33.



Original Research