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Pain Meds Are Making Me Emotionally Unstable

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,670
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Depression and Coping
I just don't know what to do. I have been in chronic pain for 20 years. I have a 2 level fusion at c4-5/c5-6. My entire back is now curved. i.e. s curve scoliosis. I am waiting to get a mri/mra on my thoracic. Anyway, I am posting because the pain meds are now causing me to have emotional problems. I have become unbalanced. Too many opioids for too many years. As my PCP said on Friday my physiology has changed as I have gotten older, and this happens. I was wondering if anyone here is aware of this? If I don't make sense, I apologize. I started the switch today and I just don't feel well. If anyone has any advice, it would be welcome. This is my first time on this website and forum.


  • Hi Roberta,

    Welcome to Spine-Health. You've come to a great place for information and empathy from other spineys. :)

    Yours is the first post I've seen about having emotional problems from long-term opiod use, but maybe others who have been on the board longer have seen people with similar problems.

    In what way did your PCP say your physiology was changing with age? What is he switching you to?

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Hi Roberta,
    As inchworm said you will find a wealth of information and support here from others that know what you are dealing with. Meds can definitely have some problem effects with not only physical health but mental health also.
    Try and consult with the professionals of the medical community to help find the right combination of meds to balance your pain and emotional symptoms.
    Take care and please keep in touch with us here.
  • Thank you so much for posting. Right now, I am having to go off the OPANA ER 20mg 2x a day and OPANA 10mg 3x a day to Methandone 10mg 3 times a day and Hydrocodone-APAP 10-325 every 6 hours. I used to take morphine and of course a bunch of other pain meds over the past 20 years. You name it, I've had it. The mission is to get me completely off of the the opiods. I did try the Medtronic neuro-stimualtor trial, but unfortunately it did not work for me because it did not cover my entire spine. I was looking at over 20+ nodes. So now, my PCP and pain med management doc are going to try the spinal shots. I have never had them before and I hope to God they do not cause me more pain.

    I suppose what he meant by physiology is that as we age our body and brain chemistry reacts differently than when we were much younger. Our bodies can handle much more. I suppose that is why many seniors have to be so careful when taking these types of medications. i.e. falls and forgetfulness. I am only 52 years old, I became disabled at the age of 32. I did not have an accident.

    I am finding that even though the pain meds do take care of the pain, I am NOT coping with every day stressors. The gloom and doom is always hanging over my head. Anti-depressants do not help. It is the opiods. This has been coming on over the past year. I just lose control of my emotions. I am sorry if I am not making sense, but it is very hard to explain.

    I hope this post helps others to be aware of the possible effects of the meds once you get on in years. Unfortunately, chronic pain just doesn't go away:(.
  • Thank you so much Ranger. I wish there had been the internet and website 20 years ago! Since I just found this site today, I have a lot of reading to do and it certainly does have a wealth of information. I am very grateful. Is there information here regarding the emotional effects of pain meds that you can direct me to? Just knowing that this is an issue has given me some relief. You know, that I am not being a weirdo!:)
  • If you do an Internet search on "Opioid Induced Mood Disorders" you should be able to pull up some information to shed a little bit of light on the subject for you. This disorder usually has mixed symptoms with a combination of irritability, expansiveness and depression.

    Best wishes and welcome to Spine Health.

  • Hi Roberta,

    I was JUST about to create a post asking people almost the same thing. While I've only been on my pain medication for a little over a month, I've been experiencing extreme mood swings, irritability, depression & even thoughts of suicide. It happens out of nowhere too... and I say things that I wish I could take back but obviously can't.

    I am only 27 but have been suffering from chronic pain for 11 years now. When I was 16 (right around when my pain started, wow, I never really realized that) I was put on anti depressants and told I was bi polar. I haven't been on anti depressants for 7 years now and thought I was doing great.

    I don't have any advice because I'm trying to deal with it too but I just wanted to post to say you're not alone.
  • I want to wish you the best in your switch off of opiods. I hope they are keeping a very close eye on you as this is not going to be easy for you. Come into chat sometime if you need "live" support. We chat about our problems but also other things that help us take our mind off of our daily struggles.

  • Having endured pain for many years it is understandable that at times we all feel out of control in varying degrees. Coping with constant pain is exhaustive and periodic changes in how we feel are part of the ongoing cycle of endurance. Some consolation is that you understand you feel this way and when my own depression hit I seemed to be the last person to know, it developed in elements over time and once these were grouped together the full weight of my inability to continue declined.

    Detangling what is age related and medication induced is always difficult and those first signs of some loss of control, should signal that in some way we need to address these changes and seek appropriate professional guidance if required.

    Although at this time you blame the medication, it should hold that if you reduced your medication as you have intimated you are going to do, those mood symptoms would decline also. I am not convinced, medication may well exacerbate our condition and create addition side effects, it may be difficult to separate adequate pain coverage and no opiods, was this decision made in conjunction with your doctor.

    Adequate medication is always preferable than too much, perhaps you could get some additional support and for some cognitive behaviour therapy may have proved useful in you hour of need. We may all desire the notion of no medication but the reality is that some enables us to perform and cope more effectively.

    I wish you luck in your quest, please write again and tell us how it is going.

    I as you have had my condition 20 years and in finding an improving strategy never did my PM team say I should reduce my medication, they were constantly attentive to managing me more effectively.

    Take care John

  • How comprehensive was your testing or exams when you were told you were bipolar? If that is an accurate diagnosis, often antidepressants are not the way to go.

    Sometimes they work, sometimes they just create side effects you don't want on top of the depression.

    I have been diagnosed with Bipolar type II and it mainly causes or exists in a state of depression with occasional bouts of feeling OK, rarely manic. When I do get manic it rarely lasts for longer than a day or 2. Just long enough to confuse me when I return to my depressive state.

    There are any number of reasons for depression.
    All I can really say, is that you are not alone. You just have to find the treatment that works for you and hang in there until you do!

    We just tried raising my med and it was a miserable failure. I probably have another 3-5 days just to get things back to where they were before we tried this. The increase in meds flared my nerve pain. It caused so much new pain that I can't run my SCS right now. It HURTS instead of helping...No matter what level I set it to. It was a very strange trip. All my other areas hurt, the shoulder pain was helped? I tried to hang on to see if the side effects of spacing out would stop. I could not do it. I missed a day and half of work, to dizzy to work. bummer

    Hang in there.
  • Thank you so much for the info. I will look this up right now!
  • Hi! This is exactly what I have been experiencing, just couldn't think of the laundry list, and rather timid about saying it out loud, if you know what I mean. We all want to be "oak trees" and not show we are vulnerable. And yes, it happens out of nowhere, which makes it very scary. My poor husband of 25 years has had to endure so much, but thank god he has strong shoulders. Thank you for posting, although you didn't have advice, you have supported me by letting me know that I am NOT alone in this nightmare. I am on my second day of coming off the OPANA to methadone and hydrocodone and I am not experiencing horrible with drawl at this time, and I hope that I don't. With drawl is horrible, been through it many times over the past 20 years. Just feeling a bit shaky today. No mental problems at this time. Again thanks for the post. I hope that you are doing well today and this week is a joyful time for you and yours.
  • Thank you Marianne. My PCP told me that if I have any problems to call him right away, or go to the hospital, which I won't have a problem doing. After 20 years, I have learned to "speak up" and not feel ashamed of how I am feeling. It took awhile to learn though. Thank you for the invitation to the chat room. I think I will when I am feeling a bit stronger. Have a wonderful Christmas.
  • Hello John and thank you for your post. Let me be clear, my PCP and pain management doctors did not suggest that I go off the pain meds, I did. I have to find a balance. There is always a trade off. A bit more pain, for a bit more sanity. It seems that all my coping strategies that I have acquired over the past 20 years have flown out the window. Grrrr. I hope that you are doing well, it is so difficult to deal with pain, especially after the many years we have had to endure. Merry Christmas to you and yours.
  • Hey sweetie, but I am not bi-polar. Been tested. Been there done that after 20 years. I have had every neurological test out there. I am just crazy! hahah...Need to keep that humor going..Seriously, I am so sorry that you have this issue. I have a dear friend who is and I don't know which is worse, physical pain or mental pain. All of it, is just god awful. I am so sorry that your increase in meds was a miserable failure. I did try the SCS trial but opted out. Too many nodes and not enough coverage to do any good. My entire spine hurts. Let's put it this way, I hurt from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. You hang in there as well. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
  • when I was recovering from my first spinal fusion,I cried alot---we finally determined it was all the pain meds,the frustration, and also the anti-depressant I was on-Effexor.It made me crazy!So since I didn't have far to go,it really added to my emotions. Please hang in there,which it sounds like you are doing-also,it really helps to talk on this site-WELCOME!
  • Roberta,
    Many here would swap less medication for some equivalent clarity, and that trade off may diminish the threshold of your pain tolerance in the longer term, you have not lost all that accumulative skill of coping and even with that experience, we all have times when the whole thing just gets too much, however competent or proficient our coping mechanisms. You have still lost me in the logic in finding that balance means no medication, I am supportive of your objective, living and working in that continual fog is difficulty and has to be experienced to be fully measured.

    Take care and go slowly, what is your time scale to assess how your objective is working. The reduction of medication at our residential PM was encouraged for anyone wishing to do so, I admire your courage.

    Take care John.

  • I wonder whether any of your doctors has ever considered a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, running alongside and in conjunction with your fusion / scoliosis? There is recent evidence to support it (see below).

    In my experience, the physical effects of long-term use of opiods, is to lessen or blunt their effectiveness in terms of pain relief whilst the mental effects are compounded by many different factors, including the effect of chronic pain itself!

    Many of your symptoms sound similar to patients who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia; it might be worth asking your doctor about this.

    Post edited to remove URLs. Solicitation is not permitted on Spine-Health. You also can NOT use a DR name in your member name UNLESS you are formally registered as a physician with Spine-Health. If you want to go that route, please send me a message indicating your intentions.
    Otherwise, you must 1- Rename your member name , 2- Do not post anything that is formal medical advice

    Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health Administrator, 12/24/09
  • I found myself getting really down due to chronic pain and not being able to work or function. I had the injections and they helped the pain somewhat but I feel more hope now taking Cymbalta which helps the leg pain I have. Never give up hope.I've found my break through med Percocet changes my mood so I try not to take it so much unless necessary but overall I'm feeling in better spirits. I hope you will find the right treatment to help. Take care. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I have lower back curvature of the spine and have had it for many years with lots of pain. I did not know I had it until last year when I was 59 years old. I use inversion table therapy twice daily and I have found that as long as I do it for 3 minutes twice daily, my back stays pain free. I also use unrefined coconut oil and it really helps with the inflamation. I am not a doctor or a nurse, just somebody with back problems. I use no medication or OTC drugs, just natural methods. I also occasionally use far infrared technology is my pain gets bad from not doing what I should on a daily basis. Hope this helps. EDITED

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