More than one in three Americans may be taking prescription medications that can lead to depression or increase the risk of suicide, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of IL at Chicago (UIC).
For the study, Quato and her colleagues analyzed information provided by more than 26,000 US adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2005 through 2014.
Some hormonal birth control pills, heart and blood pressure medications, proton-pump inhibitors, antacids and painkillers were among the more than 200 commonly used prescription drugs that researchers said have depression or suicide listed as a potential side effect.
According to Qato, what people could take away from the study was that polypharmacy may lead to depressive symptoms.
Dima Mazen Qato, the study's lead author and assistant professor at the College of Pharmacy of the University of Illinois, Chicago said that there is a considerable rise of depression and suicidal thoughts with the use of medications.
What's more, about 15 percent of adults with polypharmacy in the prescription medication study experienced depression.
The study also found that the numbers of Americans taking medications that have side effects listed as depression increased over the nine-year period.
Prevalence of depression higher for adults reporting use of multiple meds with depression as side effect.
Over the decade, Qato and colleagues found that 37 percent of US adults, on average, took medications associated with depression.
The study is not a conclusive evidence or proof that these medications lead to the risk of depression.
"The study is an important reminder that all medicines have risks, and most medicines have rare but serious risks - yet another reason that even commonly used medicines such as beta-blockers or proton pump inhibitors should not be used cavalierly", said Dr. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Use of three or more drugs concurrently increased from 7 percent to 10 percent, approximately.
This study is observational, which means it can't prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the use of prescription medications and depression. Fifteen percent of them had depression compared to just 5 percent of people who took none of these medications.
"It should up the ante about having the conversation about whether a medication is really helpful", Steinman said.