I don’t need to tell you that prescription drugs can have side effects. Or that they can sometimes be serious.
But what most folks don’t realize is depression—or even suicidal thoughts—can be one of them. Or that a med you or a loved one are already taking could be on the list of culprits.
The truth is we’re all vulnerable to this side effect. And yes, it’s true even if you’ve always considered yourself an upbeat person.
Because depression isn’t about personality, or strength, it’s about chemicals.
Depression is more common than you think
Have you found yourself having a hard time getting out of bed in the mornings? Or perhaps struggled to see any hope in the future?
If so, you may already be suffering from depression.
And if that’s the case, you should know you’re in good company. In fact, more than 16 million adults in the United States reported having a “depressive episode” in 2015 alone.
That’s more than twice the number of folks who seek treatment for a broken bone in the USA every year. In other words, it’s an incredibly common medical problem.
If you’re suffering from depression, or unwanted thoughts, it simply means it’s time to call your doctor to tell him what’s going on. Just as you would if you suspected you broke your toe or if you developed a cough.
He’ll have some solutions to help you feel better. And while you’re talking to him, make sure to ask about whether any of your medications could be contributing to your depression.
Drug linked depression is on the rise
Medication-related depression is on the rise, and researchers from the University of Chicago, Illinois, think they know why.
In a study published in JAMA, they report that the number of prescriptions which can cause, or contribute to, depression and suicidal thoughts has gone WAY up. In fact, the list has skyrocketed to over 200 separate meds which list depression or suicidal thoughts as a possible side effect.
But that’s not all. More people are taking multiple medications these days than ever before. Which means they’re far more likely to experience the side effect.
5 popular drugs which could trigger depression
Following are five of the most common medications which list depression as a potential side effect. Some of them are bound to surprise you.
You know overusing antibiotics can destroy your gut health. But it turns out they could be horrible for your mental health too.
A study out of Israel found that popular penicillin antibiotics are linked to a 23 percent increase in your risk of depression. Quinolones, another common class of these drugs, were associated with 25 percent greater risk.
And just like with antibiotic resistance the more courses of the drugs you take the greater your risk for depression rises. Which means we have one more excellent reason to avoid overusing these powerful drugs.
Ironically, drugs commonly prescribed to combat depression can sometimes make things worse. Certain antidepressants can cause suicidal thoughts.
This side effect typically shows up in younger folks. But if you’ve started a new antidepressant recently and feel like your mental health is worse than before, your med might be causing it. Give your doctor a call and ask about other options.
3. Beta blockers:
Beta-blockers are an old go-to drug for high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and glaucoma. But they also have a history of causing depression in long-term users.
Luckily, there are newer, safer options for all of these conditions. If you’re still on beta-blockers and concerned about depression ask your doctor about an updated treatment.
Corticosteroids are powerful drugs which mimic the effects of hormones in your body. They’re typically used to suppress all kinds of inflammation. Which means doctors prescribe them for a wide variety of conditions ranging from asthma to infections.
If you’ve taking a corticosteroid your doctor likely mentioned some of their side effects such as weight gain or muscle weakness. But one that’s rarely mentioned is depression.
If you’re only taking a steroid for a short time, it’s less likely to trigger this side effect. But if you’re taking one for a long-term condition, such as arthritis, it could raise your risk for depression.
5. Proton pump inhibitors:
If you’ve told your doctor you’ve been experiencing heartburn, chances are he prescribed a protein pump inhibitor, or PPI, for you. Or advised you to pick up an over the counter version.
These drugs have a number of troubling side effects, many of which I’ve warned you about before here in Healthier Talk. And all of those are already good reasons to talk with your doctor about weaning yourself back off a PPI. But if you’re a senior, Italian researchers have another one.
Their research found older folks who take these drugs are significantly more likely to suffer from depression. Experts believe it’s because the drugs may be interfering with their ability to absorb vitamin B-12, an important nutrient which helps control mood.
If you’ve been experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts, get in touch with your doctor immediately. And if you’re on one of these five meds be sure to ask about other options.
But remember these are far from the only drugs that can mess with your mood. You should never stop taking a drug without your doctor advising you too. But it’s a good idea to go over ALL your meds with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if they could be raising your risk for depression.
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