Depressed, depression, anxiety
1 in 3 US adults on medication unknowingly fall prey to depression. (Representational picture) Pixabay

Depression kills and the world is losing many movie stars and singers to the growing epidemic. If you are a person who pops up pills like candy, then think before you do it again. Because you are increasing the risks of depression and suicidal thoughts. Shocking but a scientific report confirms it.

The researchers of the University of Illinois at Chicago suggest that a shocking number of US adults may be unknowingly consuming prescription drugs that alsso have the potential to cause depression or suicidal tendencies.

The very fact that the people are unaware of the risk and continue consuming prescription drugs that can lead to risks of depression is alarming. These medications are not uncommon and often have no relation to depression.

As high as 200 common medications sold in the US show depression as a potential side effect. In some cases, the risk increases with the number of drugs taken at the same time.

The list of prescription drugs includes certain types of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), painkillers including ibuprofen, anxiety drugs, beta blockers, anti-convulsant drugs and ACE inhibitors.

Study author Mark Olson, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University says, "The more of these medications you're taking, the more likely you are to report depression."

For this study, which was published in the Journal of American Medical Association, 26,192 adults participated in the federal survey called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They were asked to list out the medications they were consuming during the time of the survey. Apart from the survey, each of them was asked to take a depression screening and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) which detailed their sleep time, appetite and moods.

One in three of those who took the survey were consuming medications with the risk of side effects such as depression and suicidal tendencies. The study team wanted to determine if the participants are more or less likely to be depressed in comparison with the other people who didn't consume these medications.

Olfson said, "What we found is that, in fact, they're more likely."

Also, about 15 percent of people who took simultaneously three or more of those medications were three times likely to get depressed. While the people who did not use any of these medications were only 5 percent likely to be depressed. Even with people who used only one of those drugs, it is 7 percent likely to get depressed.

The study is not a conclusive evidence or proof that these medications lead to the risk of depression. But the researchers are working on to follow up people over time to find if the medications are the likely cause for depression.

Olfson said, "The strength of the association between the number of medications and the likelihood of being depressed is surprising."

The study also will get more people to question their healthcare providers about the medications prescribed.

Dima Mazen Qato, the study's lead author and assistant professor at the College of Pharmacy of the University of Illinois, Chicago said that there is a considerable rise of depression and suicidal thoughts with the use of medications.

In a release about the study findings, Dima Mazen Qato wrote, "People are not only increasingly using these medicines alone, but are increasingly using them simultaneously, yet very few of these drugs have warning labels, so until we have public or system-level solutions, it is left up to patients and healthcare professionals to be aware of the risks."

To bring down the rate of depression, Qato suggests that the physicians may have to think, consider, and evaluate the role the medications prescribed.