High blood pressure is worrisome enough since it can lead to heart disease, heart failure, stroke, or death. A recent study also discovered something startling about blood pressure medication and your risk for depression.
There are several different types of blood pressure medication, including beta blockers, calcium channel antagonists, ACE inhibitors, and diuretics. Each has its own potential side effects that are commonly known among users of these drugs. However, depression caused by some blood pressure medication is being recognized by doctors.
Beta Blockers and Calcium Channel Antagonists
These two drugs both showed that patients taking the drug had double the risk of experiencing mood disorders, like severe depression. This led them to be admitted to the hospital for help.
This type of blood pressure medication actually reduced the risk of patients developing any severe mood disorders, even when compared to control groups with healthy blood pressure levels and no history of depression.
Diuretics showed something completely different than the other drugs. Patients taking diuretics had an equal risk of developing a mood disorder as people not on any medications for blood pressure.
Dr. Sandosh Padmanabhan, the lead author of the study and professor of cardiovascular genomics and therapeutics at the University of Glasgow, said, “There is a lot of data that depression and cardiovascular disease are related … but current hypertensive practices do not consider depression. This validated those (earlier) findings, but also means blood pressure tablets could be repurposed for mental health conditions.”
Doctors previously found through a small study done in the United States that calcium channel blockers aided in improving bipolar disorder symptoms. Though this was a new finding, doctors had already seen that beta blockers and depression were linked.
In order to find the correlation between blood pressure medication and your risk for depression, the researchers selected about 144,000 patients out of 520,000. The selected patients did not have depression and were being solely treated for hypertension with either beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, diuretics, or ACE inhibitors.
For five years, the chosen participants were compared to about 111,000 other patients who were not taking any depression or hypertension medication. Over the course of the study, the researchers monitored the amount of people who were admitted to a hospital for depression or bipolar disorder.
Beta blockers and calcium channel blockers had the same effect. “As expected, beta blockers had a higher rate of admission for major depression,” Padmanabhan said. “(But) the angiotensin group had lower rates than the control group. That was surprising.”
“There could be some people who are predisposed to depression who we should not be giving these drugs,” he added. “We need to now validate this by showing the mechanisms by which this has an effect. If angiotensin blockers are protective, then there is a role to repurpose them.”
Being able to repurpose ACE inhibitors as antidepressants could save millions of dollars because they’ve already proven to be safe and effective.
Despite the study’s findings, there are many holes in it because it was only observational. The researchers looked for large specific mood disorders, so smaller changes may need more investigation.
On a large scale, this can help doctors better consider blood pressure medication and your risk for depression. Patients who may have depression or a history of it may be given an ACE inhibitor instead of a beta blocker.
Doctors will also mostly likely begin to monitor their patients’ mood changes more carefully to be sure their blood pressure medication isn’t causing undesired side effects.