Long-term opioid use associated with increased risk of depression
ST. LOUIS, MO, USA (January 12, 2016) - Opioids may cause short-term improvement in mood, but long-term use imposes risk of new-onset depression, a Saint Louis University study shows. The study, "Prescription Opioid Duration, Dose, and Increased Risk of Depression in 3 Large Patient Populations," was published online Jan. 11 in the Annals of Family Medicine. Jeffrey Scherrer, Ph.D., associate professor for family and community medicine at Saint Louis University, and his co-authors speculate that findings may be explained by long-term opioid use of more than 30 days leading to changes in neuroanatomy and low testosterone, among other possible biological explanations. The link was independent of the known contribution of pain to depression, and the study calls on clinicians to consider the contribution of opioid use when depressed mood develops in their patients.