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16 June 2018, 02:26 | Randall Craig
A third of American adults take prescription drugs that can cause depression: Study
The scientists know of more than 200 different over-the-counter and prescription medications that have depression or suicidal thoughts as potential side effects. "Basically, it's saying if you take more medicines that have depression reported as a side effect, you are more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression, which I think is a bit of a no-brainer".
And since many of these medications are common and not associated with depression - such as hormonal birth control medications, blood pressure and heart medications, proton pump inhibitors, antacids and painkillers - patients and clinicians may be unaware of the risks.
The participants in the prescription medication survey listed all of the meds they were using at the time, and they also answered questions during depression screening, known as the Patient Health Questionnaire, or PHQ-9.
And almost 5 percent of USA adults are estimated to have depression symptoms. Fifteen percent of the adults who took three or more of these medications at the same time experienced depression, compared to just five percent who took none and seven percent who took one.
As such, Qato believes drug safety software should be updated to properly analyse the impacts multiple medications can have when it comes to symptoms such as depression. This makes the need for awareness of depression as a potential side effect even more urgent.
"A lot of times when you go to a doctor, you go to a specialist, a cardiologist or an orthopedic [specialist] and they not be looking at the whole picture of everything you're taking", Narula said.
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.
During the early part of the study, only 6.9 percent took at least three of the drugs that may cause depression.
This study does not prove medications with depression as a potential side effect actually cause the disorder or increase suicidal risk. The number of medications used with depression as a possible adverse effect correlated with increased prevalence of concurrent depression, in analyses excluding antidepressant users.
The study's findings are based on the patterned medication histories of 26,000 people from 2005 to 2014.
Dima Mazen Qato, the study's lead author and assistant professor at the College of Pharmacy of the University of Illinois, Chicago said that there is a considerable rise of depression and suicidal thoughts with the use of medications. Even with people who used only one of those drugs, it is 7 percent likely to get depressed.
Qato wrote that people were using these drugs more both on their own and in tandem with others, and suggested that physicians needed to factor in those risks when considering a patient's health.
"If a person develops depression, especially without being able to pinpoint a clear reason for it, it's always important to ask their doctor whether any of the medicines they're taking might cause depression as a side effect", Mintzes said by email.
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