Long-Term Corticosteroid Use Tied to Mood
Depression and other mood disorders are common among people
taking corticosteroids long term, a new study shows.
One- to two-week “bursts” of high-dose corticosteroid
therapy are well known to cause mood problems, with mania being
much more common than depression. But no previous research had
been done on the mood effects of taking lower doses of the drugs
over a longer period of time, as many people with asthma must.
The researchers looked at 34 people with asthma or rheumatoid
arthritis (RA); 20 had taken 7.5 mg or more of prednisone daily
for at least six months and 14 had not taken the drug (the control
group). More people in the prednisone group than in the control
group were found to have existing mania (60% vs. 7%) or depression
(15% vs. none). Overall, 60% of patients on prednisone met criteria
for a past or present mood disorder related to corticosteroids,
with depression being the most common problem. Because of study-design
limitations, these observations will need to be confirmed by
If you’re taking long-term corticosteroid therapy and
also suffer from depression, speak to your doctor about a possible
link. Although you may need to remain on corticosteroids, your
doctor may consider decreasing the corticosteroid dose.
Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
Volume 92, page 500