Almost 10% of the U.S. population suffers from a mood disorder, and 19% of them use prescription opioids. Patients with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are vulnerable to highs and lows caused by medications that directly influence their moods, are prescribing them to this vulnerable group is a contentious issue. Some physicians suggest opioids as a last port of call for lifting depression, but this off-label effect is so short lived that it has little genuine value. To make matters worse, long-term opioid use frequently causes depression and manic episodes, and psychiatric patients are more likely to abuse their medications, due to the psychological drivers behind addiction.
The Depression/Pain Cycle
The opioid problem is so far ranging that the CDC has called for a new social policy to cure what it refers to as over-prescribing. Psychiatric illness poses a particular challenge to chronic pain patients. Depression can worsen your pain, and pain can worsen your depression and anxiety. There is no question that the toxic cycle needs to be broken, and opioids are far from the only option for doing so.
The reason 51% of opioid scripts are given to mood disorder patients is unclear, but it could be that depression and anxiety change the way people respond to pain. Doctors may also be more sympathetic to this group of patients. In other words, if your psychiatric health places you in this vulnerable demographic, it’s crucial that your pain be treated as proactively as your mood is. Every therapy must not only be assessed according to how effective it is, but also how it influences your psychiatric condition.
Surgery, physiotherapy, non-opioid analgesics, and occupational therapy all have an important role to play in chronic pain management. Pain Stop Clinics take a multi-pronged approach that takes our responsibility to whole patient health seriously.