Biotech and Pharma

One-third of adults in US taking drugs that may cause depression, study finds

Brett Molina
Jose Luis Pelaez | Getty Images

More than one-third of adults in the U.S. take prescription drugs not knowing they could potentially cause depression or increase the risk of suicide, a new study finds.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago analyzed the use of medications of more than 26,000 adults from 2005 to 2014 who participated in a larger health and nutrition survey.

They found that more than 200 commonly used prescription drugs have depression or suicide listed as potential side effects. The types of medications include hormonal birth control medications, blood pressure and heart medications, proton pump inhibitors, antacids and painkillers.

"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," said lead author Dima Qato, assistant professor of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at the university's College of Pharmacy, in a statement.

Findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study many of the drugs listed were used concurrently, which increased the risk of experiencing depression. Researchers found about 15% of adults who simultaneously used three or more of these medications experienced depression, compared to 5% of people who did not use any of the drugs.

Qato hopes the research leads to improved warnings on how these prescription medications could lead to depression.

"Very few of these drugs have warning labels, so until we have public or system-level solutions, it is left up to patients and health care professionals to be aware of the risks," she said.

More from USA Today:
Suicide and depression need to be understood to help those hurting
Suicide warning signs: Here's what to look for when someone needs help
The unintentional consequences of suicide coverage