More Than 1 in 3 Americans at Risk of Medically Induced Depression

Next time you’re in a group of people, look at the person to your right. Then look at the person on your left. Chances are at least one of you is at risk of depression. Depression caused by prescription drugs you’re taking.

That’s the conclusion of a major new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Over 37% of American adults – 37.2%, to be exact – are currently taking at least one drug that may cause depression.

Of course, not everyone at risk will suffer from medically induced depression. But you should know the risk, because there’s a good chance the medical mainstream won’t warn you.

And don’t think, “It can’t be me. I don’t take any of those exotic drugs.” Because depression is a serious risk for people taking some of today’s most commonly prescribed drugs.

Here’s what you need to know.

Millions at Risk… Many Unaware

Let’s be honest here. If you’re taking a prescription drug, did you really read the whole insert that came with the bottle? You know, that tiny rectangle of paper that opens into a large sheet covered with tiny – almost invisible – type.

Your doctor can’t memorize all that information for every drug. So she may have made some comments – usually along the lines of take it with food… avoid alcohol… or something along those lines.

The pharmacy tech (When was the last time you dealt with an actual pharmacist?) may have asked you to sign something that says they explained the drug. Or, at least, they tried to. But most people seem to decline the long explanations.

Besides, you trust your doctor. She’d never prescribe something that might cause problems. Especially for a common problem like heartburn, high blood pressure, or the like.

All that helps explain why so many people at risk often don’t realize the position they’re in.

The study followed a total of 26,192 adults in five 2-year cycles of a national health survey.

Taking one of these medications raised the risk of depression. But taking three – and 6.9% in the survey did – more than tripled the risk.

Why You Should Be Concerned

Of course, the big question is, “Am I at risk?”

If you take any prescription drug, you should probably assume the answer is, “Yes,” until you know otherwise. Because you could find yourself in the position of taking yet another drug – an anti-depressant – to fight the effects of a drug you’re currently changing.

That’s good news for Big Pharma, who’ll profit off the side effects of their products. But not good news for you. Because the side effects of anti-depressants can be really serious.

So, to get you started, here are just a few classes the drugs that may trigger depression…

  • Statins – Statins are used to lower cholesterol levels. But one of cholesterol’s jobs is to help regulate release of neurotransmitters in the brain. Lowering cholesterol may interfere with this function, resulting in depression. Other cholesterol-lowering drugs may also have the same effect.
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors – PPIs are often prescribed to fight acid reflux or persistent heartburn. They work by reducing levels of stomach acid. Among their many side effects is a higher risk of depression… though doctors haven’t yet figured out why.
  • Anti-Anxiety Drugs and Sleep Aids – The class of hypnotics called benzodiazepines are known to raise the risk of depression. If your body lacks enough of the enzyme that metabolizes these drugs, the result can be depression. Older adults are especially at risk.
  • Beta-Blockers – These common drugs help lower high blood pressure. While doctors still don’t understand exactly why, one of the three most common side effects is depression.
  • Corticosteroids – These powerful anti-inflammatories may lower your levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. In some people, these steroid drugs may trigger depression.

According to some sources, over 200 drugs are linked to a higher risk of depression. As good as your doctor may be, you can’t expect her – or him – to memorize the side effects of all these drugs. That’s why…

Your best defense is to take the time to read at least the “side effects” portion of those little rectangles of paper that come with your prescription. And let the pharmacy tech go through their spiel when you pick up a prescription.

If you’re not happy with the list of side effects, don’t be afraid to call your doctor’s office and ask for a different prescription. After all, you’re the one at risk here. And if you don’t look out for yourself, who will?

About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.


Qato, D.M., et al, “Prevalence of Prescription Medications With Depression as a Potential Adverse Effect Among Adults in the United States,” JAMA. 2018; 319(22): 2289-2298.

Gander, K., “Depression Is a Potential Side Effect of Over 200 Common Prescription Drugs, Scientists Warn,” Newsweek. Jun 13, 2018.

Neel, A.B., “10 Types of Medications That Can Make You Feel Depressed,” AARP.com.


© Copyright 2018 Discovery Health Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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