Common Drugs That Secretly Cause Depression

by Chris Shugart

Over 200 legal drugs can trigger depressive symptoms. You're probably using a couple of them. Here's the list.

Why is Sadie so Sad?

Sadie is depressed and really doesn’t know why. Her doctor has even suggested an anti-depressant.

Here’s what Sadie doesn’t know: Her “safe” prescription and over the counter (OTC) drugs might be causing the depression. See, Sadie is on birth control. She’s also using a prescription sleep aid and a medication for her allergies. And like a lot of people, she pops the occasional ibuprofen for headaches.

That seems fairly normal, but a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that many common drugs – even those you wouldn’t suspect – may cause depression. And the more of these drugs you’re stacking, the higher the chance you’ll suffer from some serious sads.

The Study

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago compiled a big fat list of all the drugs (prescription and OTC) that may lead to depression. Sometimes these drugs had “depression” or “suicide” on their list of potential side effects, but not always. About 200 drugs made the list.

Then the researchers looked at the use patterns of 26,000 adults. In a nutshell, about one-third of them didn’t even know their medications could cause or exacerbate depressive symptoms. While just one of these drugs may not lead to depression, taking two or more seems to increase the odds.

Lead author, Dima Qato, notes: “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.”

How to Use This Info

Scan the list of common drugs below. Now, which ones do you HAVE to be using? Some may be necessary, but maybe not all of them.

  • Heartburn? Clean up your diet. Do you really need to be eating chili dogs and Flamin Hot Doritos?
  • Birth control? Well, if you’re married and already have a basketball team of offspring, maybe talk the hubby into getting a vasectomy.
  • Can’t sleep? Look into natural sleep inducers like Elitepro (Buy at Amazon) and ditch the questionable sleep drugs.
  • Have minor pain? Look into curcumin (Buy at Amazon) (which has also been shown to help with depressive symptoms).
  • Frequent headaches? Make sure it’s not a vitamin D deficiency before you pop more pain killers.

Remember, use more than one of the drugs below concurrently and depression could become a problem.

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The Drugs

Antihypertensives (blood pressure meds):

  • Metoprolol
  • Atenolol
  • Enalapril
  • Quinapril


  • Sertraline
  • Citalopram
  • Bupropion
  • Fluoxetine
  • Trazodone
  • Venlafaxine
  • Escitalopram
  • Duloxetine
  • Paroxetine
  • Amitriptyline

Hormones/hormone modifiers:

  • Ethinyl Estradiol (Birth Control)
  • Estradiol (Estrogen)
  • Finasteride (Propecia For Hair Loss)

Anxiolytics (anti-anxiety meds), hypnotics, and sedatives:

  • Alprazolam
  • Zolpidem (Sleep Aid)
  • Clonazepam
  • Lorazepam

Analgesics (pain relievers):

  • Hydrocodone
  • Tramadol
  • Ibuprofen
  • Cyclobenzarine

Gastrointestinal agents (acid reflux, heartburn):

  • Omeprazole (Prilosec)
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • Famotidine (Pepcid Ac)

Respiratory agents (asthma and allergy meds):

  • Montelukast (Singulair)
  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec)

Anticonvulsants (seizure meds):

  • Gabapentin
  • Diazepam
  • Lamotrigine
  • Topiramate

Corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory meds)



  1. Qato DM et al. Prevalence of Prescription Medications With Depression as a Potential Adverse Effect Among Adults in the United States. JAMA. 2018 Jun 12;319(22):2289-2298. PubMed.