Prescription Drugs that Cause Depression
All medications and prescription drugs come with a host of small print listing possible side effects, which drug companies are legally obliged to provide. We may smile at the warning that a sleep aid may cause drowsiness, but in some cases medications can cause serious side effects or drug interactions that are totally unrelated to the condition they are treating.
Perhaps the most serious, and sadly a common side effect of certain medical drugs, is depression. This can range from unaccustomed despondency to alarming suicidal thoughts. Often the sufferer may be receiving treatment for totally unrelated health problems, such as acne, stomach disorders or even symptoms of the menopause.
Researching Side Effects of Prescription Drugs
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) actually has a list on their website which names all prescription drugs that may cause side effects such as depression for some users. Drug companies are also required to provide "black box" warnings on medications that have been linked with suicide and depression.
When you start a new medication, take time to read the leaflet provided. It lists common side effects, and any known drug interactions.
Everyone reacts differently to medication, which is what makes identifying possible side effects more difficult. One key indicator is the timeline. If you were not suffering from depression before you took the new drug, chances are that it may be the cause.
Here are some common drugs that are linked to depression. If you are taking them, and suspect they may be causing depression, you should talk to your prescribing physician without delay.
Acne Treatment and Depression
Dr. Bremner MD, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University School of medicine in Atlanta has published his findings on the possible relationship between acne treatments based in retinoic acid and depression. In particular, Accutane (isotretinoin), taken orally to treat acne, has been associated with causing psychiatric problems as it lowers serotonin levels in the brain which can cause depression, psychosis and even suicide.
Malaria Prevention and Depression
Mefloquine (Larium) is used to treat malaria. It is also prescribed as a preventative course of treatment for tourists visiting tropical areas where malaria is rife. Dr. Bremer states that, "Over half of people who take it develop psychiatric symptoms" - a worrying statistic.
Statins Side Effects
Popular prescription drugs including Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor are prescribed to lower cholesterol, but unfortunately statins also lower the cholesterol in the brain which controls the release of mood-stabilizing neurotransmitters. In some cases this can cause depression.
Those with gastro-intestinal problems may be prescribed Bentyl, but it can also depress the central nervous system causing bouts of depression. Gentler alternatives are Zantac, or sleeping with extra pillows to prevent the problem of acid reflux.
If you have recently changed medication or started taking a new treatment and are unusually depressed, you should consult your doctor immediately and discuss your problem with them. Odds are that a change of drug, or a lower dose, can treat your original medical condition equally effectively without the side effects of depression. As always, it's also worth researching natural supplements and remedies and keeping away from prescriptive drugs whenever possible.