A study released by the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday showed that 37 percent of American adults are taking common drugs that can increase the risk of depression.
Lead author Dima Qato, assistant professor of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at the University of Illinois - Chicago, said: "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."
Certain blood pressure medications, oral contraceptives, painkillers and even antacids were cited on the list of 200 prescription drugs named in the study that have known potential side effects of depression and even suicide.
The report cautioned that "Product labeling for over-the-counter medications does not include comprehensive information on adverse side effects including depression.
"Many patients may therefore not be aware of the greater likelihood of concurrent depression associated with these commonly used medications."
And because many of these drugs aren't labeled accordingly, even health care providers may not be realize the risks to their patients, according to the researchers.
What increases the risk?
Taking multiple medications at a time — known as polypharmacy — was shown to increase risk of depressive symptoms by three-fold.
Access to the full study was unavailable, but within its abstract, the researchers say they found that "the estimated prevalence of depression was 15 percent for those reporting use of 3 or more medications with depression as an adverse effect versus 4.7 percent for those not using medications."
Qato warned, "The takeaway message of this study is that polypharmacy can lead to depressive symptoms and that patients and health care providers need to be aware of the risk of depression that comes with all kinds of common prescription drugs — many of which are also over the counter."
She reiterated: "With depression as one of the leading causes of disability and increasing national suicide rates, we need to think innovatively about depression as a public health issue, and this study provides evidence that patterns of medication use should be considered in strategies that seek to eliminate, reduce, or minimize the impact of depression in our daily lives."