Over one-third of Americans take at least one prescription drug that lists depression as a potential side effect, a new study reports, and users of such drugs have higher rates of depression than those who don’t take such drugs.
Many patients are taking more than one drug that has depression as a side effect, and the study found that the risk of depression increased with each additional such drug taken at the same time.
About 200 prescription drugs can cause depression, and the list includes common medications like proton pump inhibitors (P.P.I.s) used to treat acid reflux, beta-blockers used to treat high blood pressure, birth control pills and emergency contraceptives, anticonvulsants like gabapentin, corticosteroids like prednisone and even prescription-strength ibuprofen. Some of these drugs are also sold over-the-counter in pharmacies.
For some drugs, like beta-blockers and interferon, the side effect of depression is well known, but the authors of the study were surprised at how many drugswere on the list.
“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,” said Dima Mazen Qato, an assistant professor and pharmacist at the University of Illinois at Chicago who was the lead author of the paper, published Tuesday in JAMA.