Are you at high risk of experiencing chronic pain? The answer could depend on something unexpected — your relationships. A new study from the University of Edinburgh has shown that partners of people with depression are more likely to suffer from chronic pain.

Researchers studied information from more than 100,000 people to conclude that depression and chronic pain may share common causes — some of which are genetic and others result from the same environment that partners share. Researchers also identified significant overlaps between the risk factors for chronic pain and depression. The study examined data from the Generation Scotland and UK Biobank projects, which are major programs investigating genetic links to health conditions.

"We hope our research will encourage people to think about the relationship between chronic pain and depression and whether physical and mental illnesses are as separate as some believe,” Professor Andrew McIntosh, Chair of Biological Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, said.

Long-term chronic pain commonly results in disability, but specifics about its causes are still unknown. Scientists hope this new research will bring an understanding of why some people suffer from the condition and not others. Chronic pain, according to the American Chronic Pain Association, lasts "beyond the usual course of acute illness or injury or more than 3 to 6 months, and ...adversely affects the individual's well-being."

Additionally, a June study by the National Institutes of Health found that more than one in three people in the U.S. has experienced pain of some sort in the previous three months. Of these, approximately 50 million suffer from chronic or severe pain. To put these numbers in perspective, 21 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, 14 million have cancer (this is all types of cancer combined) and 28 million have been diagnosed with heart disease in the U.S.

Source: McIntosh AM, Hall LS, Adams MJ et al. Genetic and Environmental Risk for Chronic Pain and the Contribution of Risk Variants for Major Depressive Disorder: A Family-Based Mixed-Model Analysis. PLOS Medicine, 2016.

Read more:

What Is Chronic Pain And Why Is It So Hard To Treat?

Anxiety vs. Depression: How They Differ And What To Do