A new study has found the link between an increase in use of opioid medicines to manage chronic pain and an increase in depression.
The Saint Louis University study found that better understanding of temporal relationship between opioids and depression and the dose of opioids that places patients at risk for depression may inform prescribing and pain management and improve outcomes for patients with chronic, non-cancer pain.
Researcher Jeffrey Scherrer said that their results support the conclusion that most of the risk of depression is driven by the duration of use and not the dose.
Scherrer added that thus, a strong potential explanation of their finding that increasing opioid dose increases risk of depression could be that the patients who increase dose were the longer using patients. This is logical as longer use is associated with tolerance and a need to increase opioids to achieve pain relief.
Scherrer concluded that they hope to find risk factors such as opioid misuse that could be in the pathway from chronic opioid use to new onset depression, adding that this would expand the targets for intervention to limit the risk of depression in patients who need long-term opioid therapy.
The study appears in the journal Pain.