Depression an Adverse Effect in One-Third of Prescription Medications

Depression an Adverse Effect in One-Third of Prescription Medications

We never knew that depression could also be one of the side effects of our medications.

More than one in three Americans may be taking prescription medications that can lead to depression or increase the risk of suicide, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of IL at Chicago (UIC).

Using 10 years of data collected from more than 26,000 Americans, researchers reported a significant link between the use of medications with the potential to cause depression and the chances of becoming depressed.

More than 200 common medications sold in the US include depression as a potential side effect.

The work is part of a provocative and growing body of research that documents how polypharmacy - the use of multiple prescription drugs at the same time - has risen in the U.S. The number of Americans taking at least five prescription drugs at the same time rose sharply between 1999 and 2012, and the elderly are particularly at risk for unsafe interactions between drugs.

"It was both surprising and worrisome to see how many medications have depression or suicidal symptoms as a side effect, given the burden of depression and suicide rates in the country", Dima Mazen Qato, the lead author of the study, told The New York Times.

Study author Mark Olfson said the same to NPR, though he added he was surprised by the "strength of the association" between the number of drugs being taken and the risk of depression.

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A new study suggests that over one-third of American adults take at least one drug with depression as a side effect. What's more, the fraction of American adults taking three or more prescription drugs with these side effects jumped from 6.9 percent in 2005-2006 to 9.5 percent in 2013-2014. The researchers warned that this approach meant that conclusions could not be drawn about cause-and-effect relationships, pointing out that the questionnaires did not take into account possible antecedents of depression.

Qato notes that the findings reveal a trend of increasing polypharmacy for medications that list depression, particularly suicidal symptoms, as a potential adverse effect. The list includes certain proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) used to treat acid reflux, beta blockers, painkillers (including ibuprofen), anti-convulsant drugs, ACE inhibitors used to treat high blood pressure, and anxiety drugs.

Scientists found that the risk rose significantly when three or more medicines were taken together. This type of concurrent use is termed polypharmacy, and it is linked to a greater likelihood of feelings of depression.

According to the AFP, the JAMA report was released one week after United States health authorities said suicides have risen 30 percent in the past two decades, with about half of the suicides among people who had no history of mental illness.

DON MORDECAI: People should always be ready to ask, what are the risks and benefits of me taking this medication?

And patients should talk with their doctors if they notice any changes in their mood while taking a medication.

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