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June 18, 2017

The association between prescription medication use and depression was analyzed in a study by D. Qato and colleagues in JAMA this week.

Here is the question that they asked: "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?"

Over a 10 year period measuring 2 year cycles they reported that of the over 27,000 people studied 37%

of study participants used a medication with depression as a side effect. By the end of the study period almost 10% of adults were using 3 or more drugs simultaneously that listed depression as a side effect.

The risk of actual depression was 3 times higher in the more than 3 drug use group versus those not using 3 or more drugs.

My take on this data is this: 1) any drug that alters the normal function of the intestinal microbiome or the immune system is a likely candidate to alter the function of the brain as has been shown in animal models as well in dugs like interferon for viral hepatitis. 2) people that require three or more medications for general wellness are generally not well. This is likely related to diet, lifestyle choices and exercise that could by themselves promote depression. Which is the chicken and which is the egg? 3) the goal is clearly to not need medicine at all. Therefore, regardless of the truth of drug induced depression, we need to change our lifestyle habits and therefore not need medicine and in turn not get depressed!

Work on the 5 pillars of health - exercise/movement, predominantly plant based diet, avoid toxic chemicals, have a village of support and believe in something greater than yourself!

Dr. M

JAMA Article
Psychiatry Article