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.
Almost thirty-seven per cent of these prescription drugs showed depression in the list of potential side effects.
Qato wrote that people were using these drugs more both on their own and in tandem with others, and suggested that physicians needed to factor in those risks when considering a patient's health. Researchers found about 15% of adults who simultaneously used three or more of these medications experienced depression, compared to 5% of people who did not use any of the drugs.
Because of how widely used some of these medications are, doctors and health care providers may be unaware of any increased risk of depression or suicide, even though they are known side effects, the researchers said.
Numerous drugs are commonplace and not associated with a risk of depression despite the evidence showing their effects. Reported use of three or more concurrent medications with a potential for depression as an adverse effect was estimated at 6.9 percent in 2005 and 2006 and 9.5 percent in 2013 and 2014. Many doctors believe patients are being "over-medicalised", with little regard for the potentially risky side-effects.
"Many prescription medicines may have depression as a possible side effect and this should be discussed with patients up front". About a third of this type of medicine can have serious adverse effects, such as anxiety, depression, or suicidal tendencies.
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Researchers at the University of IL at Chicago found that 37.2% of US adults took such drugs. These findings remained strong even when the researchers excluded anyone using psychotropic medications, considered an indicator of underlying depression unrelated to medication use. Sometimes another drug can be prescribed.
The report was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
According to researchers, anti-depressants are the only drug that carries an explicit warning - called a black box warning - of suicide risk. 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.
"It should up the ante about having the conversation about whether a medication is really helpful", Steinman said.
A surprising number of common medications list depression or suicidal thoughts as possible side effects.
At the time of the survey, all participants listed the medications they were taking and completed a depression screening that measured mood, sleep, and appetite.