One-third of common medications can make people depressed

Alto  Getty Images Stock image of woman holding birth control pills

Alto Getty Images Stock image of woman holding birth control pills

Approximately 15 percent of adults who used three or more of these medications at the same time said they experienced depression while taking the drugs, while only 5 percent said they experienced depression among those not using any of the drugs. The researchers discovered that 200 commonly used medications have depression and suicide listed as side effects, including common birth control, painkillers, and antacid drugs.

More and more Americans are using such prescription drugs, according to the study published this week in the journal JAMA.

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.

"Many may be surprised to learn that their medications, despite having nothing to do with mood or anxiety or any other condition normally associated with depression, can increase their risk of experiencing depressive symptoms, and may lead to a depression diagnosis", said lead author Dima Qato, assistant professor of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at the University of IL at Chicago.

This study does not prove medications with depression as a potential side effect actually cause the disorder or increase suicidal risk.

Participants who took such meds were "more likely" to be depressed than people who didn't, study author Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, tells NPR. Earlier research from the same team showed that hormonal birth control is linked with a 70% higher risk of depression (that's relative risk; it means if 10 women not taking the drugs develop depression, then 17 women on the medication will).

The list of potential side effects that accompanies most prescription drug may seem farcically long, and it can be easy to assume that the ill effects won't impact you.

As depression is one of the leading causes of disability, it is important that we do what we can to help and support people who suffer from it, especially as the stigma associated with mental health often stops them from receiving the help they need. The survey shows that over the decade in question, all the common drugs looked at it in the study were increasingly prescribed.

Roane cautioned, however, "that while a medication may contribute to depression, stopping the drug is not going to be enough to treat the depression".

"Many prescription medicines may have depression as a possible side effect and this should be discussed with patients up front".

"Many may be surprised to learn that their medications, despite having nothing to do with mood or anxiety or any other condition normally associated with depression, can increase their risk of experiencing depressive symptoms, and may lead to a depression diagnosis", she added.