This month, Public Citizen's Health Research Group published the "Most Commonly Used Oral Medications with Depression as a Potential Adverse Effect." The listed drugs were identified in a University of Illinois study that compared official drug label side effects with side effects experienced by respondents who reported taking prescription drugs in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey." The survey analysis covered the years between 2005 and 2014, so researchers were able to identify trends in prescription taking habits and health consequences.
The study concluded that around 37% of Americans are taking drugs that have depression side effects risks. These include a wide range of treatment categories, including beta blockers, hormonal contraceptives, heartburn drugs, analgesics, pain medicines, mental health drugs, and anticonvulsants. Researchers also found that compared with ten years ago, more people are taking drugs and more are also taking multiple prescription drugs. Not surprisingly, the researchers found that as the number of drugs with the risk of depression are taken concurrently increases, so does the incidence of depressive side effects.
Here are some of the drugs on the list, along with links to experiences of patients reporting depression as a side effect of the drug. The drugs identified as causing depression in the research study also include common antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. These are not included in the AskaPatient links below because for those categories of drugs, it is difficult to limit the reviews in the database to include only those antidepressants where "depression" is reported as a side effect (a "paradoxical" side effect since depression is what the drug is treating).
|Common Drugs with Depression Side Effects|
|Drug||Used for||Drug Type|
|Singulair causing depression||Allergies/ Asthma||Leukotriene inhibitor|
|Singulair and depression in children||Allergies||Leukotriene inhibitor|
|Zyrtec causing depression||Allergies||Antihistamine|
|Zyrtec and depression in children||Allergies||Antihistamine|
|Toprol XL causing depression||High blood pressure||Beta-blocker|
|Atenolol causing depression||High blood pressure||Beta-blocker|
|Prilosec causing depression||GERD/severe heartburn||Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI)|
|Zantac causing depression||Stomach Acid||Histamine2-blocker|
|Pepcid causing depression||Stomach Acid||Histamine2-blocker|
|Nexium causing depression||Stomach Acid||Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI)|
|Lo Loestrin causing depression||Birth control||Ethinyl estradiol|
|Sprintec causing depression||Birth control||Ethinyl estradiol|
|Alesse causing depression||Birth control||Ethinyl estradiol|
|Ortho tri-cylen causing depression||Birth control||Ethinyl estradiol|
|Propecia causing depression||Hair loss||5-Alpha reductase inhibitor|
|Lamictal causing depression||Bipolar/ epilepsy||Anticonvulsant|
|Klonopin causing depression||Anxiety/ seizures||Benzodiazepine|
|Topmax causing depression||Migraines||Anticonvulsant|
|Neurontin causing depression||Nerve pain||Anticonvulsant|
|Ambien causing depression||Insomnia||Sedative-hypnotic|
Resources and More Reading:
- Qato DM, Ozenberger K, Olfson M. "Prevalence of prescription medications with depression as a potential adverse effect among adults in the United States." JAMA. 2018;319(22):2289-2298
- National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is a program of studies designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States. The survey combines interviews and physical examinations, has been in existence since 1960 and has surveyed over 190,000 people.
- "One-third of US adults may unknowingly use medications that can cause depression." Science Daily Release. Contains the list of drugs identified by the JAMA study.
- Public Citizen's Health Research Group. Worst Pills, Best Pills: "New Research Shows Drugs Associated with a Risk of Depression Are Widely Used" (October 2018). http://www.worstpills.org/recent_postings.cfm (Subscription required to view full article.)