How to Know if Your Prescription Medication Is Causing Depression
6 minute read
With so many health conditions affecting us, we come to rely on medications to help alleviate symptoms and to help us feel better. Prescriptions for acid reflux, blood pressure, or even diabetes are all essential when it comes to living with a health condition, but what about the side effects?
There are several factors that can contribute to depression, but it seems there is now a chance your prescriptions could be causing it too.
The Good and Bad of Prescription Medications
Most people over the age of 65 take at least five different prescribed medications. The most commonly prescribed are for lowering blood pressure and reducing heartburn and acid reflux.
As effective as these drugs are at reducing symptoms and helping you feel better, they have been found to increase symptoms of depression. This is one side effect that you may not be aware of.
A recent study into prescription drugs, specifically those used to treat hypertension and acid reflux, found that depression is a common outcome. Regular use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and beta blockers have led to increased incidences of depression in older adults.
Considering that one-third of the American adult population is taking one or both of these drugs, this is news more people should know about.
The study also reported that the more drugs a person is taking, the higher the risk for depression will be. Even more alarming is that many physicians were not aware that depression was a potential side effect of these prescribed medications. The findings from these recent studies have caused some change in focus, and doctors can now screen patients for depression before prescribing these drugs.
What this means moving forward is that those at risk for depression will know the warning signs to look for, and patients will be able to communicate their concerns to their doctor. This does not mean that everyone taking heartburn or blood pressure medications will develop depression.
The increased awareness of the link between these drugs and depression will serve to educate individuals, which allows people to identify depression early enough for treatment.
Signs of Depression to Look Out For
If you are taking either proton pump inhibitors for heartburn or beta blockers for blood pressure, there are several things you can do. Being vigilant about depression will be the best way to identify and treat the disease.
Depression may be caused by your medication, but it can also be treated successfully. There are a few key things to keep in mind if you are taking any of the medications known to contribute to depression.
Monitor Your Mood
Feeling down from time to time is natural with all the daily pressures we face. If you notice that you are in a depressed mood for most of the time and this lasts for two weeks or more, then you could be looking at depression.
Depression can cause you to lose interest in the activities you typically enjoy as well. Also, you should watch out for insomnia, sleeping too much, changes in appetite or weight, trouble concentrating, constant fatigue, and thoughts of suicide.
Should you notice any of these symptoms, do not wait until your next regular checkup. Be sure to bring them to your doctor’s attention right away.
Get to Know Your Medications
If you are depressed, make sure you discuss medications with your doctor thoroughly. It is not uncommon for medications to be prescribed once depression is diagnosed. You need to discuss the side effects of any new medications as well as how they react to what you are already taking.
| Related: Tips on How to Talk to Your Doctor |
Adjusting medications that are causing depression is one solution, but it is often better to start meeting with a psychiatrist. They will have more in-depth knowledge about mood-altering medications and how best to help you.
Make Some Tweaks
If it is determined that the prescriptions you are taking are causing depressive symptoms, you can lower the dosage rather than stop taking it.
Do not change your dosage without prior approval from your doctor. Prescription medications can be dangerous when used improperly.
If there is no way for you to safely stop the medication, then you must treat the depression. Some supplements have been shown to help reduce depression. Lifestyle changes can also make a difference, such as losing weight and following a healthier diet. In many cases, however, it may be necessary to start counselling and medications for the depression too.
Drugs With Possible Depression Side Effects
According to studies there are known prescription drugs that can cause depression. If any of these are in your medicine cabinet, reach out to your doctor to discuss how much at risk you are for depression.
♦ Beta blockers for high blood pressure
♦ Proton pump inhibitors and antacids for acid reflux and heart burn
♦ Anti-anxiety medications
♦ Opioids, such as hydrocodone, including some over-the-counter varieties
♦ Corticosteroids, like cortisone, used to treat rashes, asthma, and lupus
♦ Certain allergy and asthma medications
♦ Hormonal drugs used to treat hair loss, menopause, and enlarged prostate
♦ Anticonvulsant medications
♦ Amitriptyline used to treat nerve pain and prevent migraines
The Bottom Line
Medications are designed to help us, and for the most part they do what they are supposed to. Every medication out there has potential side effects, but these will not necessarily occur with every patient. It is important to educate yourself on the prescriptions you take and what side effects they can have.
If depression is a risk, then discuss this with your doctor and remain vigilant. Identifying symptoms and the disease early is the best way to beat the blues.