If you’re struggling with depression, the cause may be inside your medicine cabinet: A recent study in JAMA found that about 1 in 3 American adults takes one or more prescription drugs known to increase the risk of depression, and people who take several of these medications are more likely to become depressed.
For the study, published in June 2018, researchers examined data on more than 26,000 adults (average age 46) who filled out national health surveys in one of five two-year periods between 2005 and 2014. They found that 37 percent of the participants (9,150) overall were taking at least one medication with the potential to cause depression. The percentage of people taking three or more such medications rose from 7 percent in 2005-2006 to nearly 10 percent in 2013-2014.
The rate of depression was 15 percent among those who took three or more of these medications, 10 percent among those who took two of these medications, 7 percent among those who took one of these medications, and 5 percent among those who did not take any of these medications.
Drugs linked to depression include some for hypertension, hot flashes, prostate enlargement, pain, gastrointestinal or respiratory problems, epilepsy, and—ironically—depression and anxiety. If you are experiencing depression, be sure to review all of your medications with your doctor to determine whether they might be contributing to the problem.
A version of this article first appeared in the UC Berkeley 2019 Depression and Anxiety White Paper.
Also see Antidepressants: Pros and Cons.