Does Suboxone Cause or Affect Mood Swings?

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Suboxone does not generally cause mood swings. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) keeps a list of this medication's side effects, and mood swings aren't on it.[1]

Some people in recovery from opioid use disorder (OUD) can experience mood swings. Sometimes, Suboxone can actually ease those problems by stabilizing the individual and preventing subsequent anxiety or depressive symptoms.

If you're experiencing a difficult withdrawal process, or mood swings might be one of the symptoms you experience. Suboxone therapy might help. 

3 Reasons You Might Have Mood Swings in Recovery From OUD

While Suboxone itself might not cause mood swings, strong emotions such as depression, anxiety, anger and mood swings can be seen during the early withdrawal and recovery period. This can be due to several factors:

1. Underlying Mood Disorders 

More than 60% of people with substance misuse issues also have mood disorders.[2] Mood swings might be a part of a chronic problem for an individual with OUD rather than a medication side effect 

2. Withdrawal Side Effects 

Opioid withdrawal comes with plenty of discomfort. You could experience the following:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches 
  • Sweating

Any of these difficult symptoms could make you feel anxious or depressed. And since they wax and wane, you may feel like you're dealing with mood swings during the withdrawal process itself, in which case Suboxone may actually be helpful to help stabilize your mood by preventing withdrawal symptoms. 

When to See Your Doctor for Mood Swings

Opioid withdrawal typically starts within 4-24 hours after your last dose.[3] Mood swings may be part of your constellation of symptoms, in which case MAT such as Suboxone may help.

If you feel so sick that you're tempted to relapse to drugs, or you just can't cope with the sensations you're moving through in early recovery, talk with your doctor. Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) combines prescriptions with therapy and can help ease chemical imbalances and help you build the life you always wanted.

If you’re already taking Suboxone and experiencing mood swings, talk to your doctor. They may adjust your dose or recommend other medications or approaches that can help.

Sources

  1. Suboxone Prescribing Information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2018/020733s022lbl.pdf. February 2018. Accessed July 2022.
  2. Long-Term Suboxone Emotional Reactivity as Measured by Automatic Detection in Speech. PLOS ONE. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3706486/. July 2013. Accessed July 2022. 
  3. Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal. U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm. May 2020. Accessed July 2022.

Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where she works as a primary care physician as well as part time in pain management and integrated health. Her clinical interests include underserved health care, chronic pain and integrated/alternative health.

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