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Are Your Medications Making Your Depressed?

Jul 31, 2018 by Comfort Keepers Newark, DE

In the past few weeks, reports have been released showing that the rates of suicide are increasingly drastically across the U.S., especially for middle-aged adults.

Curious as to why this shift is happening, researchers examined data from 2005 to 2014 from a large national survey on health and depression, and found medications to be more a factor than previously thought:

Side Effects Taking a Toll

The survey collected data from almost 27,000 Americans during that nine-year span. The key take away was that those who were taking medications with depression as a side effect ultimately had a higher risk of depression.

However, most Americans don’t just take one medication. In the senior population, for instance, polypharmacy is more common than not, meaning that a single patient may take several medications daily for their several ailments. So, if depression is a side effect for each medication being consumed, the risk is exponentially amplified.

Approximately 200 drugs were sited as having depression as a stated side effect. Examples of these medications include:

  • Proton pump inhibitors (or PPIs) for treating acid reflux
  • Painkillers
  • High blood pressure medications (beta blockers, especially)
  • Steroids
  • Hormone replacement therapy

Additionally, a drug for men called finasteride that is used to treat hair loss of prostate issues specifically has suicidal symptoms as potential side effects.

The researchers want to make it clear that this data does not prove that medications cause depression, but is quite interesting to see the rise in medication usage as well as the increase in depression and suicides.

How to Protect Yourself

Proper medication management is vital to both your physical and mental health. Forgetting to take your medications, taking the wrong doses (either less or more than recommended), or even still taking medications your body no longer needs are all putting you at major risk for increased health problems.

If you are taking any of the listed drugs above and notice changes in your mental health, talk to your doctor right away. They can see about lowering your dose, or even switching you to an alternative drug that can still treat your condition without the risk of depression.

A Reminder: Senior Depression and Isolation

Even if you are not taking any medications with depression as a side effect, or perhaps not taking any medications at all, seniors are at an elevated risk for mental health issues overall.

A common way a senior falls into loneliness and depression is through isolation. This can occur when family and friends stop calling or visiting as much, making them feel unwanted and isolated from their loved ones. Seniors who live alone more commonly feel isolated, but it can happen to those living in nursing homes or other facilities, as well. Declining health can also be discouraging and cause an older adult to isolate themselves, as they may not be able to do the things they used to do as easily.

If you are feeling lonely, it’s important to find support. Talk to your doctor about resources available to you. Be open with your family about your feelings and how you need more effort from them. Join a local club or support group to interact with other seniors that are in the same boat as you. Avoiding isolation can help prevent feelings of depression and loneliness. This can not only save your mental and physical health, but can also actually lengthen your life.

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