A growing number of Americans recognize that mental health is as important as physical health. But what happens if the medication we take to improve our physical health negatively impacts our mental health?
A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois and Columbia University concluded there is a correlation between prescription medication use and depression. The study estimates that over a third of American adults are taking prescription medications that list depression as an adverse side effect. It also showed that use of such medications positively correlates with an increase in the rate of concurrent depression (i.e., depression at the time of use of the medication).
What the study does not answer is whether these medications are causing depression in individuals or whether the individuals were predisposed to depression in the first place. There are many factors that can lead to a diagnosis of depression. Unfortunately, this study does not explain anything other than that there is a correlation between taking prescription medication and depression.
However, as the lead author of the study, Dr. Dima Mazen Qato, notes, it is “both surprising and worrisome to see how many medications have depression or suicidal symptoms as a side effect, given the burden of depression and suicide rates in the country.”
While this study does not provide concrete answers as to the cause of the correlation between medication and depression, it does serve as an important reminder. “All medicines have risks, and most medicines have rare but serious risks,” says Dr. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Always remember to carefully check your medicines’ labels. If you have concerns about the side effects of your medication, whether mental or physical, always talk to your doctor. And remember, for more news, tips, and content like this, sign up for our email list.