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One in Three Americans Unknowingly Taking Common Medications That May Raise the Risk of Depression

06-13-2018

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.

The drugs named in a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) include birth control pills, antacids, and even common heart medications.

In fact, the drugs are so common, people may be unaware of their potential depressive effects, the report said.

Researchers found that more than 200 commonly used prescription drugs have depression or suicidal symptoms listed on their containers as potential side effects. 

"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," lead author Dima Qato, assistant professor of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago told the news agency AFP

According to the AFP, the JAMA report was released one week after US health authorities said suicides have risen 30 percent in the past two decades, with about half of the suicides among people who had no history of mental illness.

Researchers on the current study found the risk of depression was higher among people taking more than one drug.

"Approximately 15 percent of adults who simultaneously used three or more of these medications experienced depression while taking the drugs, compared with just five percent for those not using any of the drugs, (and) seven percent for those using one medication," the AFP reported on the study's findings.

According to researchers, anti-depressants are the only drug that carries an explicit warning -- called a black box warning -- of suicide risk.

For other common medications -- like blood pressure lowering pills, antacids known as proton pump inhibitors, painkillers and hormonal contraceptives -- the warnings are harder to find or are not printed on the packaging.

"Product labeling for over-the-counter medications does not include comprehensive information on adverse effects including depression," said the report. "Many patients may therefore not be aware of the greater likelihood of concurrent depression associated with these commonly used medications."

The study was observational in nature and was based on survey data on more than 26,000 adults from 2005 to 2014, collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

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