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Your medications could be causing depression

14 June 2018

Some hormonal birth control pills, heart and blood pressure medications, proton-pump inhibitors, antacids and painkillers were among the more than 200 commonly used prescription drugs that researchers said have depression or suicide listed as a potential side effect.

"The takeaway message of this study is that polypharmacy [being on more than one drug at once] 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", Dima Qato, the study's lead author and an assistant professor of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at the University of Illinois Chicago College of Pharmacy, said in a statement.

A new study shows that many Americans are unaware of the depressive side effects of many common medications.

Anti-depressants are the only drug class that carries an explicit warning - called a black box warning - of suicide risk. Polypharmacy (taking more than one drug) increased the risk to 9 percent for two drugs and 15 percent for three drugs taken at once.

The report cautioned that "Product labeling for over-the-counter medications does not include comprehensive information on adverse side effects including depression".

"Many patients may therefore not be aware of the greater likelihood of concurrent depression associated with these commonly used medications". 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.

"Use of antacids with potential depression adverse effects, like proton pump inhibitors and H2 antagonists, increased from five percent to 10 percent in the same period", said the study. Use of three or more drugs concurrently increased from 7 percent to 10 percent, approximately.

Researchers at the University of IL at Chicago analyzed the use of medications of more than 26,000 adults from 2005 to 2014 who participated in a larger health and nutrition survey. The research didn't consider, however, whether the patients had a medical history of depression or if the condition they were being treated for contributed to their depression.

"It could be the chronic conditions people are taking the medications for, heart conditions, cancer, is what's really causing the depression, not the drugs", said Dr. Tara Narula.

Is your daily prescription raising your depression risk?

Health professionals are issuing a disturbing warning about common medications after finding that hundreds of drugs are putting people at risk for developing depression.

The study found multiple medications increased the risk.

Your medications could be causing depression