A new study found that one-third of adults could be on medications linked to depression and suicidal thoughts
In recent years, depression has been on the rise in the United States, as have rates of suicide and suicidal thoughts. And a study published today, June 13th, has uncovered a link between common prescriptions and a risk of developing depression.
In the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, University of Illinois researchers found that as many as one-third of adults could be taking medication that can lead to depression or suicide. More than 200 commonly prescribed drugs were included in these findings, among them birth control pills, blood pressure and heart medications, painkillers, and antacids.
And if you take more than one of these medications at a time, the chances you’ll experience depression increase dramatically. The researchers discovered that 15% of the adults who used three or more of these drugs experienced depression. The same was true for 9% of those using two of the drugs, 7% of those using one, and only 5% of those not using any of the medications at all.
The study’s lead author, Dima Qato, a pharmacy professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told USA Today that she hoped the study would lead to better information for patients.
"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.
Mark Olfson, another study author and a psychiatry professor at Columbia University, told NPR that these findings don’t necessarily mean that your daily pills are causing mental health problems. To figure that out, researchers would have to observe patients on a case by case basis right as they begin taking new medications.
"We're just showing that if you're already taking them, you are more likely to be depressed," he clarified. However, he went on to say that he was surprised by the "strength of the association between the number of medications and the likelihood of being depressed."
Basically, while you shouldn’t be afraid to take common medications that can improve your health, you should absolutely talk to your doctor if you begin feeling depressed.
If you or someone you know are feeling suicidal, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.