Analysis of surveys of 26,000 American adults from 2005 to 2014, which were collected as part of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, showed that taking multiple such medications dramatically increased the risk.
The researchers found that the risk of depression was highest in people taking more than one drug with depression among its possible side effects.
"It was both surprising and worrisome to see how any medications have depression or suicidal symptoms as a side effect, given the burden of depression and suicide rates in the country, said Dima Mazen Qato, an assistant professor and pharmacist at the University of IL at Chicago and lead author of the study".
Study author Mark Olfson said the same to NPR, though he added he was surprised by the "strength of the association" between the number of drugs being taken and the risk of depression. We never knew that depression could also be one of the side effects of our medications.
The researchers discovered that around 15% adults who took three or even more of these medications experienced more of depression as a side effect while 5% who did not take the medications, 7% who took just one medication and 9% who took two medications all at one time were estimated to suffer from depression.
"People who don't have a history of depression and then, suddenly, start to have symptoms of depression should be concerned that it's potentially due to a side effect, or potentially, an interaction", he said.
They also found combining any of these drugs increases the risk.
Suicide is on a sharp rise in the United States, and recent celebrity deaths certainly underscore that grim reality. These findings persisted when the researchers excluded anyone using psychotropic medications, considered an indicator of underlying depression unrelated to medication use. Because you are increasing the risks of depression and suicidal thoughts.
This article has been republished from materials provided by University of IL at Chicago. Out of these thirty-seven per cent prescription drugs, some were painkillers and antacids.
"It should up the ante about having the conversation about whether a medication is really helpful", Steinman said.
This study does not prove medications with depression as a potential side effect actually cause the disorder or increase suicidal risk. Conversely, only five percent of participants who didn't use any of these medications were depressed.
"Even if the same doctor is prescribing drugs, the fact is that it's really hard - there's no software that tells a doctor, 'your patient is on three drugs that predispose them or are associated potentially with depression or suicidal symptoms", Qato said.