One-third of U.S. adults taking drugs that may cause depression

Modesto Morganelli
Giugno 14, 2018

Numerous drugs are commonplace and not associated with a risk of depression despite the evidence showing their effects.

Drugs taken by more than one-third of USA adults have depression as a possible side effect, a new study reveals.

More and more Americans are using such prescription drugs, according to the study published this week in the journal JAMA.

The study was observational in nature, and was based on survey data on more than 26,000 adults from 2005 to 2014, collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

"The take away message of this study is that polypharmacy can lead to depressive symptoms and that patients and health care providers need to be aware of the risk of depression that comes with all kinds of common prescription drugs - many of which are also available over the counter", said lead author Professor Dima Qato, from the University of IL at Chicago, in a statement.

For drugs with depression as a possible side effect, use increased from 35 percent in 2005 to 38 percent in the 2013 to 2014 period.

"The use of multiple medications associated with a potential risk for depression or suicidal symptoms is increasing and may be contributing to the growing problem of depression", said lead researcher Dima Mazen Qato. The likelihood of experiencing depression while taking one drug was about 7 percent compared to 5 percent if no drugs were taken. Those who use such drugs are more likely to suffer from depression than those who don't.

Currently, more than one third of Americans are taking drugs that come with an increased risk of depression and-whether or not they realize it-patients are feeling the impact. The types of medications include hormonal birth control medications, blood pressure and heart medications, proton pump inhibitors, antacids and painkillers.

Some of the medication on the list are well known for their depression-like side effects, such as beta-blockers and interferon. This makes the need for awareness of depression as a potential side effect even more pressing.

About 15 percent of adults are thought to use five or more prescription medications simultaneously, the researchers said in background notes.

Researchers cautioned that the survey approach meant conclusions could not be drawn about cause-and-effect, and that questionnaires did not account for a history of depression. Meanwhile, the authors recommend that physicians pay close attention to these side effects when prescribing medications.

"Many may be surprised to learn that their medications, despite having nothing to do with mood or anxiety or any other condition normally associated with depression, can increase their risk of experiencing depressive symptoms, and may lead to a depression diagnosis", she added.

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