Hypertension Medications May Cause Depression, Other Mood Disorders

First Posted: Oct 19, 2016 05:30 AM EDT

A number of drugs have already been identified to have depression or other mood disorders as possible side effects including medications for asthma and acne, as well as corticosteroids, which treat inflammation, and some contraceptives. Now, experts are debating whether or not drugs given to treat high blood pressure should be added to the list.

According to Medical Daily, about one in three Americans suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure), and although the results did not exactly explain how a new study suggests that those under medications to treat the disorder may be at risk of developing depression and several other mental health problems.

The study, published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, found that common prescription medications to treat high blood pressure, such as beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and angiotensin antagonists, were related to visits to hospitals for a number of mental health conditions including depression and bipolar disorder. The Washington Post reported that people taking a beta-blocker or a calcium channel blocker were two times more likely to have been admitted with a mood disorder compared to those taking an angiotensin antagonist.

Researchers also found that patients taking an angiotensin antagonist were 53 percent less likely to have been hospitalized with a mood disorder than those who don't take blood pressure medication. The study also revealed that thiazide diuretics were not associated with any risk for mood disorder hospitalization.

These findings were based on the medical records of 144,066 adults with an average age of 56. Among the group, 32,130 people reported taking one of the four high blood pressure medications. These individuals were followed over a five-year period and 299 out of the total number of people in the group were admitted to the hospital with complaints of a mood disorder.

"There is a lot of data that depression and cardiovascular disease are related ... but current hypertensive practices do not consider depression," lead study author Dr. Sandosh Padmanabhan told CNN. "This validated those (earlier) findings, but also means blood pressure tablets could be repurposed for mental health conditions."

It is also important to note that since it is only an observational study. With that being said, the researchers were not able to determine the cause and effect relationship. They are not sure what's happening to the molecular levels to generate such results. However, the researchers strongly believe that the findings could have important indications, especially prevention strategies, as well as new methods of treating depression.

"There could be some people who are predisposed to depression who we should not be giving these drugs," Padmanabhan told CNN, adding "if angiotensin blockers are protective, then there is a role to repurpose them."

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