One-Third of American Adults Take Medicines That Can Cause Depression

Our health depends a lot on what we eat and drink. However, the very medicines that we take on our physicians’ advice to treat certain conditions might be the cause of some other serious ailments. A recent study has found that more than 37 percent of American adults use commonly prescribed medications that have depression as a likely side effect.

According to the study, more than 200 medicines are sold in the United States that can cause depression. Taking a combination of any of these medicines increases the susceptibility to depression. The list includes commonly used medicines like beta blockers (for blood pressure), proton pump inhibitors (for acid reflux), benzodiazepines (for anxiety), anticonvulsants (for epileptic seizures), ACE inhibitors (for managing hypertension) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (for minor pains, fever, etc.).

Study author Mark Olfson, professor of psychiatry at the Columbia University, said the more these medicines are consumed, the higher the propensity to depression. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), involved 26,192 adult subjects who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey over five two-year cycles – 2005-2006 to 2013-2014.

The participants provided the list of all the medicines that they were taking at that time. Additionally, they also completed a depression questionnaire – Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) – which was based on questions related to mood, sleep, and appetite. It was found that nearly one in three persons was taking medications which had depression and suicidal ideation as serious side effects.

The study authors found that these people were more susceptible to depression than those who were not taking any medicines. It was also found that those taking three or more medicines were three times more prone to depression. Nearly 15 percent of the participants taking three or more medicines were found to be depressed. In comparison, only 5 percent of those who were not taking any medication were depressed, and only 7 percent of those taking only one medication were depressed.

Olfson said the study didn’t direct which medicines caused depression. Instead, it showed if someone was already taking medicines, he/she was more likely to be depressed. He added that in determining the exact cause of depression, the researchers need to follow up the subjects from the beginning when they start taking medicine. The study findings suggest that patients should be more inquisitive about the medicines they are prescribed. They must ask their health care provider about the potential side effects of these medicines. If one starts a new medicine, it should be helpful to track changes in the self.

People who develop depressive symptoms without a history of depression should be more concerned as that could be a side effect of the medicines they are taking or could be an interaction. A person should also be able to speak to the doctor about stopping the medicine or reducing its dose, for example, a person taking a medicine for hypertension might be prescribed a reduced dose if he or she starts taking care of the diet, start exercising and limiting the salt intake.

Depression is treatable

Depression is a serious disability worldwide, particularly in the U.S. It can affect a person’s physical and mental health, relationships, work or school performance and finances. Taking care of the self, living in the present moment, practicing yoga, meditation and mindfulness, eating well and doing some physical activity are some of the ways of managing depression. In addition, one should also seek treatment for long-term symptom resolution.