09-09 Toxicants that trigger depression-Part 1: Prescription drugs

Posted in Depression, Depression Treatment, Mental Illness

Toxicants that trigger depression-Part 1: Prescription drugs

Depression is one of the most common mental conditions in the United States. With a majority of the population suffering from chronic pain, painkillers and relievers become the most common prescription drugs that may cause depression in the patient.

Several studies have discovered certain drugs that give rise to depressive symptoms such as sadness, despair, and discouragement. Such drugs primarily alter the chemicals in the brain that further cause depression. Besides people with chronic pain, depression is higher among patients with chronic illness and cardiovascular diseases. As per studies, the ability for any drug to cause depression depends on its pharmacological actions at specific receptor sites. Certain drugs that are commonly associated with depression are:


Many studies have suggested a strong link between isotretinoin and depression. Isotretinoin is a commonly prescribed drug for severe skin infection such as acne. The first warning against the drug was issued in 1998 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after it received several reports of severe depression due to consumption of the drug. With 394 cases of depression and 37 suicides cases being reported between 1982 and 2000, isotretinoin has been listed as the fifth most common drug in the U.S. causing depression by the Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS), a computerized information database of the FDA and the tenth most common in being associated with suicide.

However, certain studies conducted in this regard could not find satisfactory evidence to prove an established association between isotretinoin and depression. As per these studies, cases of depression due to isotretinoin are fairly rare ranging from 1 percent to 11 percent.

Another segment which believes in the association between isotretinoin and depression suggests that since the drug contains Vitamin A which is responsible for many central nervous system functions, it tends to interfere with the production of serotonin which further causes depression and aggression.

Beta blockers  

Another most commonly associated drugs with depression are the ones that contain beta blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin), carvedilol (Coreg), metoprolol and others drugs ending with ‘-olol’. Majorly prescribed to treat high blood pressure (hypertension), beta blockers work to reduce the blood pressure by blocking the effect of adrenaline hormone.  

Despite several studies, the role of beta blockers in causing depression remains debatable. There were no significant evidence found in the general use of beta blockers instigating depressive symptoms. But the use of highly lipid-soluble β-blockers, mostly propranolol was found to exhibit depressive symptoms during the first three months of use.

Benzodiazepine hypnotics

Benzodiazepine is a commonly used drug for the patients living with anxiety disorder and insomnia. Drugs like alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), estazolam (ProSom), flurazepam (Dalmane), lorazepam (Ativan), temazepam (Restoril) and triazolam (Halcion) are prescribed for muscle relaxation.  

However, several studies have discovered the use of benzodiazepines to cause depressive symptoms by affecting the central nervous system. These drugs tend to increase the toxic level of the body if not metabolized properly by the liver. As a result, the hangover effect can soon get converted into depression.

Road to recovery

Besides the mentioned, other drugs such as medications used for Parkinson’s disease, hormone-altering drugs, stimulants and anticonvulsants also have the potential to cause depression in their users. Patients consuming such prescribed drugs should be cautious about noticing the symptoms of depression.

The signs of depression are not the same for all, but one constantly needs to be vigilant. If you or your loved one is battling depression, the Depression Treatment Centers of California can provide you with information about the best depression treatment facilities in California. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-678-0400 or chat online for further information. Our representatives can also help you find the best residential treatment centers for depression in California.  


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