Medications can be a less obvious cause of depression. These include a group of drugs known as Beta Blockers. Before ACE Inhibitors became available in the 1980’s, Beta Blockers were the most popular blood pressure medications and are still widely used today, such as propranolol (Inderal), metoprolol (Betaloc, Minax) and atenolol (Tenormin, Noten).
One of the marketing strategies of ACE Inhibitor drug reps in the early days, was that their drugs not only lowered blood pressure, but actually made patients feel happy and experience “joie de vivre”. I was encouraged to try switching my hypertensive patients onto their drugs. And I found it to be true! A lot of them reported that they slept better, and that their nightmares even disappeared. Marvellous! The truth became apparent though that it wasn’t a result of the new drug but taking the patients off Beta Blockers!
Other drugs that can cause depression includes the combined contraceptive pill; statins used to lower cholesterol; corticosteroids such as prednisone used in autoimmune diseases; and proton pump inhibitors and H2 antagonists used for GORD and indigestion. Given the sheer number of people on medications and that they are not necessarily recognised by patients as possibly being a cause of depression a massive number of people could be unnecessarily depressed. If you think that your depression may be linked to a medication you are taking, I urge you to discuss this with your medical practitioner. I hasten to caution anyone to not stop their medication without medical advice.