Is Your Medication Depressing You?

Prescription medication use is on the rise. Would you be surprised that over half of Americans are taking prescribed medications daily? On average, those Americans on a prescribed medication are taking 4 prescribed drugs. (1) That’s a lot of drugs, people! Does it sound like its fixing anything?  It gets worse! A recent study looked at how frequently Americans are taking prescribed medications that have the potential for depression. Even they were surprised! 1/3 of Americans are taking medication that increases risk of depression and almost a quarter are taking ones that increase the risk for suicide. (2) They found the more prescriptions you take with the potential side effects the higher your risk.

I wasn’t surprised. I regularly see the ill effects of an overmedicated population that is treating the symptoms and not the cause. That’s why we are seeing increases in chronic illness and a population that isn’t getting healthier despite medical advances. They are getting sicker, more medicated, and more depressed.

Depression and suicide risk are a potential side effect of over 200 common drugs.

Are you on any of these drugs? Here are a few to look for:

  • Birth Control or Estrogens
  • Statins – for heart
  • Opioids- for pain
  • Betablockers – for blood pressure
  • Anticonvulsants- for seizures
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors- for acid reflux
  • Sedatives- for calming or sleep
  • Corticosteroids- for reducing pain and inflammation

That’s just to name a few. These are drugs you, or someone you love, may be taking. Do I have you thinking about checking the side effects on your medications yet? Are you trying to think back on what the pharmacist said the first time you filled that prescription? Remember you are not alone.

Like I said, over half of Americans are regularly taking a prescription drug and over 1/3 of Americans are on a drug that increases their risk of depression. You don’t have to look far to find another person who should be looking for the insert for their medications.

Study Finds Increased Risk of Depression

The study looked at medication use of over 26,000 adults and found 37% took one or more of the 203 common drugs that have depression and/or suicide as a potential side effect. They looked closer at those who were taking one or more prescriptions to see how that increased the risk for depression. They found results that persisted even when those on antidepressants or had other risk factors were excluded.

For those not on any of these medications, almost 5% experience feelings of depression. This goes up to 7% for those using one prescription with side effects and 9% for those using two prescriptions. It triples the risk when taking three or more medications with the potential side effect compared to those not on these medications. Let me remind you that for all the people taking medication they are taking an average of 4 prescriptions regularly and that the drugs that have the potential side effect are common. That is significant when we are talking about 50% of the population taking prescription medication- that’s a lot of people being impacted!

We have seen an increase in prescribed medications while we have also seen a rise in depression and suicides. Are these related? Medications come with risks. If you have to take a medication for the rest of your life that isn’t health. It’s time for a new way of looking at health and medicine. One that looks at the cause to bring people back to homeostasis rather than one that masks their symptoms while leaving them sicker. Your medications shouldn’t be depressing you.


Written By Dr. Patrick Flynn