And they’re used by 37 percent of Americans, according to the study of 26,000 adults.
“The use of multiple medications associated with a potential risk for depression or suicidal symptoms is increasing and may be contributing to the growing problem of depression,” said lead researcher Dima Mazen Qato.
Suicide rates are climbing in the United States, and doctors are facing treatment-resistant depression, too, said Qato, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy.
For the study, she and her colleagues collected data on men and women who took part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2014.
The team found that use of three or more depression-linked prescription drugs increased from 7 percent in 2005 to 10 percent in 2014.
In addition, use of drugs with suicidal symptoms as a possible side effect rose from 17 percent to 24 percent during the 10-year study period, Qato said.
The likelihood of reporting depression was significantly higher among adults using multiple medications, she noted.
For example, 15 percent who took three or more of these drugs reported depression, compared to 7 percent who took only one drug with ties to the mood disorder, Qato said.
Qato added the pattern persisted among antidepressant users and nonusers.
Besides blood pressure drugs such as metoprolol and atenolol, medications that can lead to depression include gabapentin (Neurontin), an anti-seizure treatment also used for shingles. Others are proton pump inhibitors such as Prilosec; pain medications including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and hydrocodone; and sex hormones like estradiol, the study noted.
Most are prescription drugs, but some are available over the counter, Qato said.
About 15 percent of adults are thought to use five or more prescription medications simultaneously, the researchers said in background notes.