Researchers from the University of IL and Columbia University analyzed medication data from more than 26,000 adults between 2005 and 2014, and found that an estimated 37% of all people living in the USA are taking drugs that have depression or suicidal thoughts as potential side effects.
Health professionals are issuing a disturbing warning about common medications after finding that hundreds of drugs are putting people at risk for developing depression.
For the study, researchers examined survey results for 26,192 adults polled about their prescription drug use and mental health status every two years between 2005 and 2014.
The findings are particularly alarming because numerous drugs don't come with warning labels, and are meant for conditions users wouldn't naturally associate with their emotional or mental state. Fifteen percent of the adults who took three or more of these medications at the same time experienced depression, compared to just five percent who took none and seven percent who took one.
Researchers cautioned that the survey approach meant conclusions could not be drawn about cause-and-effect, and that questionnaires did not account for a history of depression.
The analysis showed that the more than one-third part of the drugs consumed by the trial participants illustrates the positive signs of depression.
Dima Mazen Qato, the study's lead author and assistant professor at the College of Pharmacy of the University of Illinois, Chicago said that there is a considerable rise of depression and suicidal thoughts with the use of medications.
Qato hopes that her study's findings will prompt people and health care providers to take depression more seriously. Over that same period, the proportion of U.S. adults taking at least three drugs linked to depression rose to nearly 10 percent from about seven percent.
Researchers found that more than 200 commonly used prescription drugs have depression or suicidal symptoms listed on their containers as potential side effects.
Because of that, much of the burden now falls on patients - who are urged to remind doctors of all the medications they're taking and to ask specifically about depression as a potential side effect to any new prescription.
"This confirms the well-known fact that these medications might be causing depression in some people and we should be on the look-out for that so that we can detect and then manage the depression", Young said. To determine causation, he says, researchers would need to follow people over time - beginning at the time they start taking the medications - to see if they're more likely to develop depression.
OLFSON: Yes. I was surprised by the strength of the association between the number of medications and your likelihood of being depressed.
And almost 5 percent of USA adults are estimated to have depression symptoms. Here's physician Don Mordecai.
"The best thing people can do if they're concerned is to go and have a talk to their GP", Dr Kyle said.