Published: Sat, June 16, 2018
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Study shows taking multiple prescriptions is connected to a rise in depression

Study shows taking multiple prescriptions is connected to a rise in depression

A new study reveals that one-third of Americans are taking both prescription and over-the-counter medications that may raise the risk of depression in some individuals.

But even if doctors don't have definitive proof that a particular drug is causing a depression, the study is a reminder that physicians should consider the role of medications - particularly for patients on multiple medications associated with increased risk of an adverse side effect, which the study shows are commonly used. Over 200 commonly used medications studied include birth control pills, blood pressure medications, heart medications, antacids, and painkillers.

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

The study's findings are based on the patterned medication histories of 26,000 people from 2005 to 2014. The survey shows that over the decade in question, all the common drugs looked at it in the study were increasingly prescribed.

Because of that, much of the burden now falls on patients - who are urged to remind doctors of all the medications they're taking and to ask specifically about depression as a potential side effect to any new prescription.

"The more of these medications you're taking, the more likely you are to report depression", says study author Mark Olfson, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University.

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As per the lead author of the study, Dima Mazen Qato from the Illinois University the use of drugs having suicidal or depression as the possible side effects has been on a rise.

Fifteen percent of participants who used three or more of these drugs at once were depressed compared to lower rates for those who only used one.

Dima Mazen Qato, PharmD, MPH, PhD, from the University of IL at Chicago, and colleagues analyzed five 2-year cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2005-2006 through 2013-2014) for use of prescription medications with depression as a potential adverse effect.

The list of prescription drugs includes certain types of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), painkillers including ibuprofen, anxiety drugs, beta blockers, anti-convulsant drugs and ACE inhibitors. These findings persisted when the researchers excluded anyone using psychotropic medications, considered an indicator of underlying depression unrelated to medication use. In contrast, only 9 percent of those who took two drugs were at risk, as well as 7 percent for one drug and 5 percent for no drugs. The study found about 1 in 3 adults in the taking at least one of these drugs. He's national leader for mental health and wellness at Kaiser Permanente.

"If a person develops depression, especially without being able to pinpoint a clear reason for it, it's always important to ask their doctor whether any of the medicines they're taking might cause depression as a side effect", Mintzes said by email.

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