If you take a prescription drug, its side effects could endanger your mental well-being and brain health.
And chances are your healthcare provider hasn’t warned you about that possibility — even though some common drugs can triple your risk of these problems.
This time, I’m not even talking about the devastating damage certain medications can do to memory and cognition. I’ve written about this many times before. No, this time I’m talking about a different brain health problem altogether: depression and suicide.
Shockingly, your principal care provider (that person we used to call your doctor) may not even know about this issue. Plus, the drug companies don’t exactly go out of their way to make it well-known.
But the fact is that many of the most common prescriptions are linked to increased risk of depression and suicide. Here’s the story. . .
The Depressing Truth
Research at the University of Chicago shows that millions of Americans – an astounding one of every three – are taking prescription medications that can cause depression and increase the risk of suicide.1
Doctors and other healthcare providers, as well as their patients, are often in the dark about the mental health risks.
In this study, the researchers examined the medications used by about 26,000 adults from 2005 to 2014. They discovered that 200 commonly used medicines – things like blood pressure pills, proton pump inhibitors, antacids, painkillers, hormonal birth control medications and heart medicines – can cause depression or suicide as a side effect.
The really scary part of the study is that a huge number of Americans are taking multiple prescriptions – two, three or more medicines at the same time – and the risk of these side effects climbs with each additional medication.
For instance, consider this alarming statistic: If you don’t take any medications, your risk of depression is about five percent – one in 20. But, according to this new study, if you take three of these prescriptions, you run a 15 percent chance of serious depression.
If you take two of these drugs at the same time, your chances of depression are nine percent (almost double the risk for people on no medications). And seven percent of those taking one of these drugs were found to be suffering from depression. You can find a list of the drugs discussed in the study here.
Researcher Dima Qato warns, “Many may be surprised to learn that their medications, despite having nothing to do with mood or anxiety or any other condition normally associated with depression, can increase their risk of experiencing depressive symptoms, and may lead to a depression diagnosis.”
A Serious National Problem
A worrisome aspect of this study is the fact that it also shows Americans are taking more and more prescriptions every year. At the same time, our use of drugs that increase the risk of suicide or depression is simultaneously climbing upward.
Nationally, this is a massive problem. The Chicago researchers’ statistics show that 38 percent of American adults now use these medications. That’s more than 92 million people.
The number of people using three or more of these medications is about 24 million. Therefore, according to this study, it’s probable that more than two million Americans are suffering from depression directly linked to their prescriptions.
As with many other health issues connected with Big Pharma, if you want to protect yourself you have to take action on your own. Many healthcare providers don’t seem to grasp the implications of the University of Chicago study. The likely response among medical doctors may be to simply add an anti-depressant to your drug regimen instead of looking for a more natural way to deal with your health issues.
But you should avoid these medications whenever possible if there’s a better, more natural way to stay healthy. I’m a firm believe in natural solutions. At the same time, I recognize they sometimes don’t work, or are not enough.
That’s why it’s important to work with an integrative or functional M.D. to determine which prescription drugs you really need, which can be replaced with natural solutions, and which ones you don’t need at all.