A study appearing in this month’s edition of the journal Pain reports a correlation between increased dosage of opioids for chronic pain and increased incidence of depression. Conducted by researchers at Saint Louis University, the study expands the authors’ findings in a previous study of Veterans Administration (VA) patients. The authors write that “Better understanding of [the] 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.”
Although previous research had found depression to be linked with patients’ opioid use, this study identifies the association between an increase in opioid use and an increase in depression. Contributing factors for cases of new-onset depression may include both the amount of daily morphine exposure and the duration of exposure. The study calls for further research to determine whether patients are at-risk due to past episodes of depression or recent depressive symptoms.
Read more about the study findings here.