37% of Americans use prescription meds linked to depression

More than one-third of adults in the U.S. are using prescription drugs tied to an increased risk of depression, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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.

Researchers found, on average, 37.2 percent of American adults took drugs with depression as a potential adverse effect. The medications included blood pressure medications, heartburn drugs and hormones for contraception.

The amount of Americans taking at least three medications linked to depression increased from 6.9 percent in the 2005-06 survey to 9.5 percent in the 2013-14 survey. "The estimated prevalence of depression was 15 percent for those reporting use of three or more medications with depression as an adverse effect versus 4.7 percent for those not using such medications," the study authors wrote.

Lead author Dima Qato, PharmD, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, said many physicians may not understand the depression risks linked to some prescription drugs.

"Even if the same doctor is prescribing drugs, the fact is that it's really difficult — there's no software that tells a doctor, 'your patient is on three drugs that predispose them or are associated potentially with depression or suicidal symptoms," Dr. Qato told The Washington Post.

More articles on population health: 
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