Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Long-term use of prescription painkillers increases risk of depression

Date:
October 31, 2013
Source:
Saint Louis University Medical Center
Summary:
The study has discovered a link between chronic use of pain-relieving medication and increase in the risk of developing major depression.

Opioid analgesics, or prescription-based narcotic pain killers, have long been known to reduce pain, but reports of adverse effects and addiction continue to surface. Now, a team of investigators led by a Saint Louis University researcher has discovered a link between chronic use of pain-relieving medication and increase in the risk of developing major depression.

Related Articles


The study, which was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine on October 31 analyzed medical record data of about 50,000 veterans who had no history of opioid use or depression, and were subsequently prescribed opioid pain killers.

According to the findings, patients who started and remained on opioids for 180 days or longer were at a 53 percent increased risk of developing a new episode of depression, and those using opioids for 90-180 days were at a 25 percent increased risk compared to patients who never took opioids for longer than 1-89 days.

"These findings suggest that the longer one is exposed to opioid analgesics, the greater is their risk of developing depression," said Jeffrey Scherrer, Ph.D. associate professor of family and community medicine at Saint Louis University and principle investigator of the study. "Opioids have long been known to allay pain and suffering, but reports of adverse effects are abundant and continue to emerge."

Scherrer said even though there is no clear evidence about the mechanisms by which opioids may contribute to the development of depression in a patient, there could be several factors that lead to it.

Some of these include opioid-induced resetting of the brain's 'reward pathway' to a higher level, which means the chronic use of narcotic pain killers can elevate the threshold for a person's ability to experience pleasure from natural rewards such as a food or sexual activity.

Other factors may include body aches months and years after the use of opioids has stopped, side effects such as adrenal, testosterone and vitamin D deficiencies and glucose dysregulation.

The study also suggests that the higher the dose of opioid analgesics, the greater the risk of depression.

"Preliminary evidence suggests that if you can keep your daily dose low, you may be at lower risk for depression," he said.

Scherrer notes that even though a minority of patients take these pain killers chronically, they are at risk of developing depression that can affect their quality of life and ability to cope with chronic pain.

He said recent studies indicate that the use of prescription opioid analgesics has quintupled recently and that more than 200 million prescriptions were issued to patients in 2009 in the US.

"Even though the risk is not huge, there is enough exposure that we may have a public health problem," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Saint Louis University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jeffrey F. Scherrer, Dragan M. Svrakic, Kenneth E. Freedland, Timothy Chrusciel, Sumitra Balasubramanian, Kathleen K. Bucholz, Elizabeth V. Lawler, Patrick J. Lustman. Prescription Opioid Analgesics Increase the Risk of Depression. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s11606-013-2648-1

Cite This Page:

Saint Louis University Medical Center. "Long-term use of prescription painkillers increases risk of depression." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031124725.htm>.
Saint Louis University Medical Center. (2013, October 31). Long-term use of prescription painkillers increases risk of depression. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031124725.htm
Saint Louis University Medical Center. "Long-term use of prescription painkillers increases risk of depression." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031124725.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins