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A third of American adults take prescription drugs that can cause depression
15 June 2018, 11:54 | Melissa Porter
Alto Getty Images Stock image of woman holding birth control pills
"This confirms the well-known fact that these drugs may be causing depression in some people, and we should be on the lookout for the ability to detect and then manage depression", he added.
Some of the medications documented in the research are even available over the counter, and the results show that one-third of adults in the United States are taking medications that have depression and suicide listed as potential side-effects.
They found that almost 1 in 3 participants took drugs that listed depression as a potential side effect - which include pills for heart disease, acid reflux, pain and anxiety, as well as birth control - and that taking them was linked to depression.
The researchers also accounted for other risk factors that can cause depression when doing the study, including marital status, unemployment, poverty, and medical conditions like chronic pain. 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.
"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", Dima Mazen Qato, the lead author of the study, told The New York Times. Taking multiple medications that didn't carry a depression risk was not associated with increased depression.
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.
One of the more concerning findings in the current study involves the increasing number of Americans who are taking multiple medications with depression and suicidal thoughts as potential side effects.
Similar increases were found with drugs that list suicide as a potential side-effect.
They also found combining any of these drugs increases the risk. Till now, we were familiar with the broad category of generalised side effects.
These include birth control, heart medications, antacids and some painkillers.
Over the decade, Qato and colleagues found that 37 percent of US adults, on average, took medications associated with depression. Mark Olfson is a researcher and professor of psychiatry at Columbia University.
"What is very convincing about this study is that authors also look at individuals who are using drugs that do not have depression as adverse effect, and do not find a link to concurrent depression", Karaca-Mandic, who wasn't involved in the study, said by email. Use of three or more drugs concurrently increased from 7 percent to 10 percent, approximately.
DON MORDECAI: People should always be ready to ask, what are the risks and benefits of me taking this medication? Or, including evaluation of medication use in the depression screening and diagnostic tools used by doctors and nurses and recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, especially when it comes to persistent or treatment-resistant depression.