Painkillers may help you suppress physical pain, but a new study featured on Science Daily reports that some of them may cost you.

Researchers led by Jeffrey Scherrer of Saint Louis University prescribed opioids, a type of narcotic painkiller, to approximately 50,000 healthy veterans with no history of depression or opioid use, and consequently found a link between the two.

Those who used opioids for 90 to 180 days were found to have increased their risk of depression by 25 percent, while those who remained on opioids for more than 180 days increased their risk by a whopping 53 percent.

“The longer one is exposed to opioid analgesics, the greater is their risk of developing depression,” says Scherrer. “Opioids have long been known to allay pain and suffering, but reports of adverse effects are abundant and continue to emerge.”

Scherrer explains that one possible explanation for this is that opioids tend to increase a person's pleasure threshold and the brain’s reward levels. Dependence on opioids may also result in hormonal and chemical imbalances in the body long after the patient has stopped taking them.

To avoid depression, experts recommend taking painkillers only when needed. If you’re suffering from chronic pain, ask your doctor for other ways on how to manage it.

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(Photo by Eric Norris via Flickr Creative Commons)

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