Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to treat opioid use disorder. Buprenorphine was also once used for mild pain relief. It can cause a slight euphoria, however, it does have a ceiling effect. Once you get to a certain dose, usually 24mg, taking more of the drug will not increase the high you experience.
Buprenorphine is used in medication-assisted treatment because it prevents withdrawal symptoms from occurring and significantly reduces cravings.
Does Buprenorphine Support Relieve Depression?
Buprenorphine has been tested in clinical trials for use in treating treatment-resistant depression in older adults. In addition, the research is testing whether possibly using two medications to treat depression would be more effective than using one antidepressant when it is not effective. The 2 medications that are being used are venlafaxine XR (Effexor) and buprenorphine.
The Efficacy of Buprenorphine in Major Depression
The International Journal of Molecular Sciences “The Efficacy of Buprenorphine in Major Depression, Treatment-Resistant Depression and Suicidal Behavior: A Systematic Review” says,
Although several pharmacological options to treat depression are currently available, approximately one third of patients who receive antidepressant medications do not respond adequately or achieve a complete remission. Thus, novel strategies are needed to successfully address those who did not respond, or partially respond, to available antidepressant pharmacotherapy. Research findings revealed that the opioid system is significantly involved in regulating mood and incentives salience and may be an appropriate target for novel therapeutic agents. The present study aimed to systematically review the current literature about the use of buprenorphine (BUP) for major depression, treatment-resistant depression (TRD), non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) behavior, and suicidal behavior. We investigated Pubmed and Scopus databases using the following keywords: “buprenorphine AND depression”, “buprenorphine AND treatment resistant depression”, “buprenorphine AND suicid*”, “buprenorphine AND refractory depression. (NIH)
How Does a Buprenorphine Help For Depression Disorder?
This is quite intriguing since most people with opioid use disorder also have co-occurring mood disorders. If it is found that buprenorphine is effective at treating depression and the FDA approves it, this could help a lot of people. Millions of people are struggling with an addiction to opioids and also dealing with depression and anxiety. For a lot, untreated depression and anxiety got them using opioids in the first place. They have been prescribed an opioid for pain relief following an injury or surgical procedure and continued to take the opioid much after their physical pain was gone because it elevated their mood.
Regular opioids have not been found effective long-term for treating depression, but buprenorphine, a mu-opioid receptor partial agonist, is effective.
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