More than one in three Americans may be taking prescription medications that can lead to depression or increase the risk of suicide, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of IL at Chicago (UIC).
The information was collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Qato hopes the research leads to improved warnings on how these prescription medications could lead to depression.
And more meds seems to equal more risk: 15 percent of people who took three or more of those medications reported symptoms of depression.
Because of how widely used some of these medications are, doctors and health care providers may be unaware of any increased risk of depression or suicide, even though they are known side effects, the researchers said.
For drugs with depression as a possible side effect, use increased from 35 percent in 2005 to 38 percent in the 2013 to 2014 period. Many doctors believe patients are being "over-medicalised", with little regard for the potentially unsafe side-effects.
Still, he said it's important for patients to take note of side effects for any drugs or medications they're taking because every medicine comes with them.
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In addition to these significant figures, about five per cent of the adult population in the United States is suffering from depression.
Patients who do develop depression as a drug side effect can often switch to different prescriptions, said Dr. Barbara Mintzes, a pharmacy researcher at the University of Sydney in Australia who wasn't involved in the study.
The researchers also accounted for other risk factors that can cause depression when doing the study, including marital status, unemployment, poverty, and medical conditions like chronic pain.
In contrast, only 5 percent of participants who didn't use any of those medications reported depression.
"People suffering from depression would do well to have an evaluation by a physician or a psychiatrist who is aware of all of the medical and pharmacological association with depression so they can be aware of things that might be contributing to the depression", he said.
"Use of three or more drugs concurrently increased from seven percent to 10 percent". Till now, we were familiar with the broad category of generalised side effects.
"With depression as one of the leading causes of disability and increasing national suicide rates, we need to think innovatively about depression as a public health issue", said Qato.
And patients should talk with their doctors if they notice any changes in their mood while taking a medication.