There are many contributing causes to feelings of depression. These can range from the loss of a loved one or pet, to genetics. Unfortunately there is one cause that many people are not aware of; the medications that we take to for other health issues often have depression as a side effect. We need to increase awareness of this because the knowledge that it could be our medications that are causing our feelings of depression will make us that much more mindful and more willing to seek medical help for our symptoms.
Medications that cause depression appear to alter the chemicals of the brain in some manner. There are many drugs that affect the brain such as this. They are prescribed for the treatment of other illnesses that can be quite serious or even more benign. Some drugs that have been found to alter brain chemistry and cause depression have been prescribed for treatment of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even the treatment of acne. These are just a few of the illnesses and conditions that medication that may have been prescribed to treat has been shown to cause depression. You should consider any medication that you are taking as a possible contributing factor if you start to experience the symptoms of depression.
You should talk to your doctor about your medications if you suspect they may be affecting your mood. There are often alternatives that are not as likely to cause symptoms of depression. Sometimes simply changing the dosage level can dramatically lessen the effect your medication is having on your moods. If you have a family history of depression, or have experienced depression yourself for any period of your life, you should pay particular attention to whether or not the medications you are being prescribed are known to be a higher risk of causing depression. Certainly, you should discuss your family and personal history with your doctor so that he or she can make the most educated decision while deciding which medication to prescribe.
Some of the more common types of medications that are known to be a high risk of contributing to depression are: Acutane (for acne), Antabuse (for treatment of alcoholism), barbiturates, calcium channel blockers, estrogens, and opioids. This is not an all-inclusive list. A more extensive list is provided on WebMD.com, keyword search for medicines cause depression. You are encouraged to educate yourself on the risks that the medications that you are taking may present to you.
Depression claims the lives of many Americans every year. It is estimated that one in ten Americans diagnosed with clinical depression succeed in committing suicide each year. Only about 50% of persons diagnosed with the disease will actually follow-up with treatment. It is truly a life-threatening disease and should never be taken lightly. If you suspect that you may have clinical depression, seek help right away. Be sure to remember to share with your doctor any suspicions that you may have that your medications may be a contributing factor.
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* Royal Society GlaxoSmithKline Prize Lecture given by Professor Adrian Bird CBE FMedSci FRS on Tuesday 22 January 2013.
Adrian Bird CBE FMedSci FRS is the Buchanan Chair of Genetics at the University of Edinburgh.
The human genome sequence has been available for more than a decade, but its significance is still not fully understood. While most human genes have been identified, there is much to learn about the DNA signals that control them. This lecture described an unusually short DNA sequence, just two base pairs long, CG, which occurs in several chemically different forms. Defects in signalling by CG are implicated in disease. For example, the autism spectrum disorder Rett syndrome is caused by loss of a protein that reads methylated CG and affects the activity of genes.
The Royal Society GlaxoSmithKline Prize Lecture is awarded for original contributions to medical and veterinary sciences published within ten years from the date of the award.
Genetics, epigenetics and disease