Long-term use of pain-reliving medications like opioid analgesics can lead to depression, find researchers. The study 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.
Jeffrey Scherrer, associate professor at Saint Louis University and principle investigator of the study, said that the findings suggest that the longer one is exposed to opioid analgesics, the greater is their risk of developing depression.
The study also suggests that the higher the dose of opioid analgesics, the greater the risk of depression.
The study is published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.