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Psychiatry Research

Prevalence of Prescription Medications With Depression as a Potential Adverse Effect Among Adults in the United States

Educational Objective
To learn about the use of prescription medications that can cause depression.
1 Credit CME
Key Points

Question  How frequently do US adults use prescription medications with depression as a potential adverse effect and is use of these medications associated with concurrent depression?

Findings  In this cross-sectional US population-based survey study conducted between 2005 and 2014, the estimated overall prevalence of US adults using medications with depression as a potential adverse effect was 37.2%. The adjusted percentage of adults with concurrent depression was higher among those using more concurrent medications (eg, estimated 15% for ≥3 medications).

Meaning  Use of prescription medications that have depression as a potential adverse effect was common and associated with greater likelihood of concurrent depression.

Abstract

Importance  Prescription medications are increasingly used among adults in the United States and many have a potential for causing depression.

Objectives  To characterize use of prescription medications with depression as a potential adverse effect and to assess associations between their use and concurrent depression.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Five 2-year cycles (2005-2006 through 2013-2014) of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, representative cross-sectional surveys of US adults aged 18 years or older, were analyzed for use of medications with depression as a potential adverse effect. Multivariable logistic regression examined associations between use of these medications and concurrent depression. Analyses were performed among adults overall, excluding antidepressant users, and among adults treated with antidepressants and with hypertension.

Exposures  Prescription medications with depression as a potential adverse effect (listed in Micromedex).

Main Outcomes and Measures  Prevalence of any use and concurrent use of medications with a potential to cause depression and prevalence of depression (PHQ-9 score ≥10).

Results  The study included 26 192 adults (mean age, 46.2 years [95% CI, 45.6-46.7]; women, 51.1%) and 7.6% (95% CI, 7.1%-8.2%) reported depression. The overall estimated prevalence of use of medications with depression as an adverse effect was 37.2%, increasing from 35.0% (95% CI, 32.2%-37.9%) in the cycle years 2005 and 2006 to 38.4% (95% CI, 36.5%-40.3%) in 2013 and 2014 (P for trend = .03). An estimated 6.9% (95% CI, 6.2%-7.6%) reported use of 3 or more concurrent medications with a potential for depression as an adverse effect in 2005 and 2006 and 9.5% (95% CI, 8.4%-10.7%) reported such use in 2013 and 2014 (P for trend = .001). In adjusted analyses excluding users of antidepressants, the number of medications used with depression as possible adverse effects was associated with increased prevalence of concurrent depression. The estimated prevalence of depression was 15% for those reporting use of 3 or more medications with depression as an adverse effect vs 4.7% for those not using such medications (difference, 10.7% [95% CI, 7.2%-14.1%]). These patterns persisted in analyses restricted to adults treated with antidepressants, among hypertensive adults, and after excluding users of any psychotropic medication.

Conclusions and Relevance  In this cross-sectional survey study, use of prescription medications that have depression as a potential adverse effect was common. Use of multiple medications was associated with greater likelihood of concurrent depression.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Dima M. Qato, PharmD, MPH, PhD, Department of Pharmacy Systems, Outcomes and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Pharmacy, 833 S Wood St, Ste 266, Chicago, IL 60612 (dimaqato@uic.edu).

Accepted for Publication: May 1, 2018.

Author Contributions: Dr Qato had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: Qato.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.

Drafting of the manuscript: All authors.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: Qato, Olfson.

Statistical analysis: All authors.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Qato, Ozenberger.

Supervision: Qato.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: All authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest. Dr Qato serves as a consultant for Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. Dr Olfson reports a grant from Janssen Scientific Affairs LLC to Columbia University Medical Center. No other disclosures were reported.

Funding/Support: Dr Qato is supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) as part of the Clinical Scholars Leadership program.

Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The RWJF had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

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