More Than Half Of Opioids Prescribed to People With Mood Disorders
Author: Shernide Delva
Despite the fact that people with mood disorders are more at risk of misusing opioids, more than half of opioid prescriptions are written for people with a mood disorder like anxiety and other mood disorder.
Sympathy may be a factor in doctor’s decision to prescribe opioids.
“If you want to come up with social policy to address the need to decrease our out-of-control opioid prescribing, this would be the population you want to study, because they’re getting the bulk of the opioids, and then they are known to be at higher risk for the bad stuff,” Dr. Brian Sites of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center told STAT News.
Dr. Sites is the lead author of a study published this week which found that 51% of opioid prescriptions go to people with mood disorders.
The study revealed that 19% of the 38.6 million Americans with mood disorders use prescriptions opioids compared to 5% of the general population. This difference remained even when researchers controlled for factors such as physical health, pain levels, age, sex, and race, according to the report. The study analyzed health data from 51,000.
Dr. Sites stated that these results raise concerns about overprescribing for people with mood disorders.
“We need to understand if this massive prescribing level is appropriate in actually providing benefit commensurate with the risk,” he said.
Furthermore, Sites explains there could be many reasons why people with mood disorders receive more prescriptions.
Research has shown that people with depression are at increased risk for chronic pain. On the other hand, those with mood disorders are more likely to abuse opioids. It is difficult to understand what causes what.
“It’s known that people with co-occurring behavioral and mental health issues are at high risk for addiction even when prescribed opioids for a bonafide prescription medical use,” Dr. Anna Lembke, a Stanford University psychiatrist and opioid addiction expert said in a similar study.
Still, Sites speculates that doctors may simply be more sympathetic to patients with mood disorders, making them more likely to prescribe the powerful opioids. If a patient comes in with tremendous anxiety, depression along with pain symptoms, doctors may feel more obligated to help.
Also, patients with mood disorders may be more aggressively seeking these drugs because they are seeking temporary relief from depression.
Overall, it is evident that doctors need to better understand the interactions between chronic pain, depression and opioid use.
“A lot of pain patients attribute their depression to their pain, but there’s a lot of evidence that depression is playing a role in both the experience of pain and the odds of getting an opioid,” Jeffrey Scherrer, a professor, and epidemiologist at Saint Louis University, told STAT.
It is difficult to fully pinpoint why there is an increased rate of opioid prescriptions given to those with mood disorders. While chronic pain may affect the mood, it is also just as likely that mood disorders influence the desire to obtain painkillers.
When looking for treatment for opioid use disorder, it is recommended to seek a facility that offers dual diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis addresses both the addiction and the mental health challenges. We are here to guide you in the right direction. If you or someone you know is currently struggling with drug addiction or mental illness, please call today. Do not wait.
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