Drugs That Cause Depression

If you think a drug you're taking might be causing your depression, you may be right. Certain medications prescribed for various medical conditions do cause such feelings as sadness, despair, and discouragement. And those are feelings that are often associated with depression. Other medicines prescribed for medical problems can trigger mania (excessive elation and joy) that's usually associated with bipolar disorder.

Medications that cause mania or depression appear to alter brain chemicals in some way. And even though the drugs may be necessary to treat the condition, the side effect is hardly acceptable. As an example, Accutane, which is prescribed for the treatment of acne, has been found to also cause depression. So have oral contraceptives, high blood pressure drugs, and even statins that treat high cholesterol.

How Can I Avoid Drugs That Cause Depression or Mania?

The best way to avoid drugs that affect your mood is to know which medicines commonly cause depression and/or mania. Then talk to your doctor to see if any of the medicines you are taking are likely causing or contributing to mood symptoms, and if so, discuss whether a different medication may be an appropriate option. Your doctor should let you know up front which drugs might cause feelings of depression or mania and should evaluate whether mood symptoms are or are not likely related to medicines.

Drugs That Might Cause Mania (Excessive Elation)

The following drugs could cause symptoms of mania:

  • Corticosteroids. This group of drugs decreases inflammation (swelling) and reduces the activity of the immune system (cells that fight infection). Examples include hydrocortisone, triamcinolone, prednisone, Flonase, Nasocort, Nasonex, Flovent, and Azmacort.
  • Cyclosporine. This drug is used to suppress the immune system to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs.
  • Dopar (levodopa). This medicine treats Parkinson's disease.
  • Lioresal. This is a muscle relaxant and antispastic agent. It's often used to treat multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries.
  • All antidepressants, including MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors, such as Parnate or Nardil), SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac, Lexapro and Paxil), SNRIs (serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, such as Effexor, Pristiq and Cymbalta), and tricyclic antidepressants (such Elavil or Pamelor).
  • Ritalin or amphetamine. These are stimulant drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Synthroid. This drug is commonly prescribed as a thyroid hormone replacement.
  • Trihexyphenidyl (Artane). This medicine is used to treat Parkinson's disease.
  • Yohimbine. This drug treats male impotence.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/24/2012



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