Many in US take meds with depressive side effects

Millions are taking drugs, including birth control, that increase the risk of suicide

Millions are taking drugs, including birth control, that increase the risk of suicide

"Importantly, numerous medications associated with depression as a potential side effect include commonly used prescription drugs - some of which are also available over-the-counter without a prescription", said lead study author Dima Qato, a pharmacy researcher at the University of IL at Chicago.

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.

Researchers at the University of IL at Chicago analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a large and nationally representative dataset, which contains information on the medications used by 26,00 American adults between 2005 and 2014.

The researchers found 200 commonly-used prescription drugs for things like birth control, blood pressure, pain, heart problems and more listed depression as a possible side effect.

The very fact that the people are unaware of the risk and continue consuming prescription drugs that can lead to risks of depression is alarming.

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.

"People who don't have a history of depression and then, suddenly, start to have symptoms of depression should be concerned that it's potentially due to a side effect, or potentially, an interaction", Mordecai says. The goal of the study was to determine whether these individuals were more or less likely to experience depression compared to those who didn't take any of these medications.

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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.

For the study, the researchers analyzed how 26,000 US adults took and purchased their medicines from 2005 to 2014.

"Use of multiple medications was associated with greater likelihood of concurrent depression", the authors write.

The research is the first to show that these drugs are often used concurrently and that concurrent use, called polypharmacy, is linked to an increased risk of depression. Approximate use of antacids with potential depression adverse effects, like proton pump inhibitors and H2 antagonists, increased from 5 percent to 10 percent in the same period. Over that same period, the proportion of US adults taking at least three drugs linked to depression rose to nearly 10 percent from about seven percent.

"With depression as one of the leading causes of disability and increasing national suicide rates, we need to think innovatively about depression as a public health issue", said Qato.

Qato says that people should now consider talking to their physicians and evaluating the medications they take.

"For some patients, this may involve revising their medication regimen before initiating an antidepressant or psychotherapy", she said.

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