Anxiety, depression, and opioid misuse among adults with chronic pain: the role of emotion dysregulation

Abstract

The opioid epidemic is a significant public health concern in the United States, particularly among adults with chronic pain. Considerable research suggests that people with mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, may experience more opioid-related problems in the context of chronic pain. Yet, little work has examined potential mechanisms underyling these relations. Emotion dysregulation is one mechanistic factor that may link anxiety and depression and opioid-related problems among persons with chronic pain. Therefore, the current study examined the explanatory role of emotion dysregulation in the cross-sectional relationship between anxiety and depression problems and current opioid misuse and severity of opioid dependence among 431 adults with chronic pain who reported currently using opioid medications (74% female, Mage=38.32 years, SD = 11.11). Results indicated that emotion dysregulation explained, in part, the relationship between anxiety and depression symptoms and opioid-related problems. These findings highlight the need to further consider the role of emotion dysregulation among adults with chronic pain who use prescription opioids and experience symptoms of anxiety or depression. Future prospective research will be needed to further establish emotion dysregulation as a mechanism in anxiety/depression-opioid misuse/dependence processes.

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Correspondence to Michael J. Zvolensky.

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All procedures followed were in accordance with ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study. All procedures followed were in accordance with ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

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Rogers, A.H., Orr, M.F., Shepherd, J.M. et al. Anxiety, depression, and opioid misuse among adults with chronic pain: the role of emotion dysregulation. J Behav Med (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-020-00169-8

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Keywords

  • Opioid
  • Chronic pain
  • Emotion dysregulation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression