A study from University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) researchers suggests that more than one-third of U.S. adults may be using prescription medications that have the potential to cause depression or increase the risk of suicide.
The researchers retrospectively analyzed medication use patterns of more than 26,000 adults from 2005 to 2014, which were collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that more than 200 commonly used prescription drugs include depression or suicide as potential side effects.
Published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, the study is the first to demonstrate that these drugs were often used concurrently and that concurrent use, called polypharmacy, was associated with a greater likelihood of experiencing depression. Approximately 15 percent of adults who simultaneously used three or more of these medications experienced depression while taking the drugs, compared with just 5 percent for those not using any of the drugs, 7 percent for those using one medication, and 9 percent for those taking two drugs simultaneously.
The researchers observed similar results for drugs that listed suicide as a potential side effect. These findings persisted when the researchers excluded anyone using psychotropic medications, considered an indicator of underlying depression unrelated to medication use.
“The takeaway message of this study is that polypharmacy can lead to depressive symptoms and that patients and healthcare providers need to be aware of the risk of depression that comes with all kinds of common prescription drugs—many of which are also available over the counter,” said lead author Dima Qato, PhD, PharmD, MPH, assistant professor in the UIC College of Pharmacy. “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.”
This article was adapted from information provided by UIC.
Image Shutterstock/Jose Luis Stephens.