Your medications could be causing depression

Henrietta Strickland
June 14, 2018

More than one-third of USA adults could be taking prescription medications without realizing the potential side effect of depression and a higher risk of suicide, according to a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"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", said lead author Dima Qato, assistant professor of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at the University of IL at Chicago.

Access to the full study was unavailable, but within its abstract, the researchers say they found that "the estimated prevalence of depression was 15 percent for those reporting use of 3 or more medications with depression as an adverse effect versus 4.7 percent for those not using medications".

More than one-third of American adults may be using prescription medications that can potentially cause depression or increase the risk of suicide, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings are particularly alarming because numerous drugs don't come with warning labels, and are meant for conditions users wouldn't naturally associate with their emotional or mental state. In the year 2005-2006, 35 percent of the participants had been taking a prescription drug with depression listed as a potential side effect, but less decade a later, in 2013-2014, this figure jumped to 38.4 percent.

Many Americans may not realize they are at risk of depression because of the medicines they take.

For other common medications - like blood pressure lowering pills, antacids known as proton pump inhibitors, painkillers and hormonal contraceptives - the warnings are harder to find or simply don't exist in the packaging. Use of three or more drugs concurrently increased from 7 percent to 10 percent, approximately.

Analysis of surveys of 26,000 American adults from 2005 to 2014, which were collected as part of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, showed that taking multiple such medications dramatically increased the risk. These findings persisted when the researchers excluded anyone using psychotropic medications, considered an indicator of underlying depression unrelated to medication use.

As depression is one of the leading causes of disability, it is important that we do what we can to help and support people who suffer from it, especially as the stigma associated with mental health often stops them from receiving the help they need.

"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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