37% of Americans use prescription meds linked to depression


A study found that more than one-third of adults are unknowingly opening themselves to the risk of depression and suicide by taking some common prescription drugs.

Many people are taking several of the drugs at the same time, the researchers say, which they call "polypharmacy".

Researchers have reported in JAMA that drugs for birth control, heartburn, allergies, pain and high blood pressure have the potential to cause depression.

Suicide rates are climbing in the United States, and doctors are facing treatment-resistant depression, too, said Qato, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy.

In addition, use of drugs with suicidal symptoms as a possible side effect rose from 17 percent to 24 percent during the 10-year study period, Qato said. In addition, they each completed a depression screening, the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), which asks about sleep, mood and appetite.

Over the decade, Qato and colleagues found that 37 percent of USA adults, on average, took medications associated with depression.

"With this study, it's not clear if they actually looked as assigning causality from the side effects or if they just look at if it's been reported as a side effect, which is what they describe in the methods they used", he told Starts at 60.

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Researchers from the University of IL and Columbia University analyzed medication data from more than 26,000 adults between 2005 and 2014, and found that an estimated 37% of all people living in the US are taking drugs that have depression or suicidal thoughts as potential side effects. Well if you answer a YES to both the questions, then probably your depression might be the side effect of your drug regime. "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. These findings remained strong even when the researchers excluded anyone using psychotropic medications, considered an indicator of underlying depression unrelated to medication use.

The study's findings are based on the patterned medication histories of 26,000 people from 2005 to 2014.

The report was released one week after USA health authorities said suicides have risen 30 percent in the past two decades, with about half of suicides among people who were not known to suffer from mental illness.

This study is observational, which means it can't prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the use of prescription medications and depression.

From the people who combined three such prescription drugs, 15 percent were more likely to experience such side effects.

The study numerous drugs listed were used concurrently, which increased the risk of experiencing depression.

And because many of these drugs aren't labeled accordingly, even health care providers may not be realize the risks to their patients, according to the researchers.