8 Types of Medication That May Cause Depression

Prescription Drugs

8 Types of Medication That May Cause Depression

Jennifer Hadley
By Jennifer Hadley
Jan 19, 2021
Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS
Medically Reviewed ByCarina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS
Illustration of a woman laying on the couch and is sad due to depression

8 Types of Medication That Can Cause Depression

  • Antibiotic medications
  • Antidepressant medications
  • Anxiety medications
  • Blood Pressure medications
  • Cholesterol medications
  • Opioid pain medications
  • Seizure medications
  • Steroid medications

Antibiotic Medications That May Cause Depression

Although rare, there have been reports of certain antibiotics being linked to depression. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. If you experience symptoms of depression while taking antibiotics, notify your health care provider.

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Ciprofloxacin

Ciprofloxacin, often referred to as Cipro, is a quinolone antibiotic used to stop the growth of bacteria. Depression has been noted as a possible side effect.

Levofloxacin

Levofloxacin is a quinolone antibiotic used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections. Some individuals have reported a side effect of depression.

Antidepressants That May Cause Depression

Many medications used to treat depression have been linked to worsening depression in some individuals. These medications belong to classes of drugs such as SSRIs, MAOIs, SNRIs, and tricyclic antidepressants. Notify your health care provider of worsening depression or increased suicidal ideation or thoughts while taking these prescribed medications.

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Desvenlafaxine (Generic Pristiq)

Desvenlafaxine belongs to a class of medications known as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SRNIs). It has been linked to worsening depression in some individuals who are prescribed it. If you experience worsening depression while taking desvenlafaxine, it is important that you notify your health care provider.

Duloxetine (Generic Cymbalta)

Duloxetine is also an SNRI antidepressant.. It is used to treat depression but may cause worsening depression in some individuals. If you experience worsening depression while taking duloxetine, be sure to notify your health care provider.

Escitalopram (Generic Lexapro)

Escitalopram is the generic for the brand drug Lexapro. It is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It is prescribed to restore the balance of serotonin in the brain. It may cause worsening depression in some individuals. If you experience worsening depression while taking escitalopram, notify your health care provider.

Fluoxetine (Generic Prozac)

Fluoxetine is the generic for Prozac. It is an SSRI antidepressant that has the potential to cause worsening depression. If you experience worsening depression while taking fluoxetine, notify your health care provider.

Nortriptyline (Generic Pamelor)

Nortriptyline is a drug known as a tricyclic antidepressant. Nortriptyline is generic for the brand drug Pamelor. It may cause worsening depression in some people. If you experience worsening depression while taking nortriptyline, notify your health care provider.

Phenelzine (Generic Nardil)

Phenelzine is the generic for the brand drug Nardil. It is a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). It may cause worsening depression in some people. If you experience worsening depression while taking phenelzine, notify your health care provider.

Venlafaxine (Generic Effexor)

Venlafaxine is the generic drug for the brand drug Effexor. It is an SNRI antidepressant. Some individuals who take it may experience worsening depression. If you experience worsening depression while taking venlafaxine, notify your health care provider.

Anxiety Medications That May Cause Depression

Medications known as benzodiazepines may cause depression as a side effect. They are prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders. if you notice symptoms of depression when taking anxiety medications, notify your health care provider.

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Alprazolam (Xanax)

Alprazolam is the generic for Xanax. It is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.

Diazepam (Valium)

Diazepam is the generic Valium. It is a benzodiazepine medication used to treat anxiety. It may cause depression as a side effect.

Lorazepam (Ativan)

Lorazepam is the generic for the brand drug Ativan. It is prescribed to treat anxiety, by producing a calming effect. Lorazepam has been linked to depression in some individuals taking it.

Blood Pressure Medications That May Cause Depression

Blood pressure medications known as beta-blockers may produce several side effects. One possible side effect of these blood pressure medications is depression. If you experience depression while taking beta-blockers to treat high blood pressure, notify your health care provider.

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Carvedilol (Coreg)

Carvedilol is used to treat high blood pressure. Reducing high blood pressure helps to prevent stroke, heart attacks, and kidney problems. Depression is a possible side effect of carvedilol.

Metoprolol (Lopressor)

Metoprolol is prescribed to treat high blood pressure. It belongs to a class of drugs known as beta-blockers. A possible side effect of metoprolol is depression.

Cholesterol Medications That May Cause Depression

Medications used to treat high cholesterol are known as statins. They help to reduce bad cholesterol, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and help prevent strokes and heart attacks. A possible side effect of some statins is depression. If you experience symptoms of depression while taking a cholesterol medication, notify your health care provider.

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Pravastatin (Pravachol)

Pravastatin is prescribed along with a healthy diet to lower cholesterol. It belongs to a class of drugs known as statins. Depression may be a possible side effect of pravastatin.

Simvastatin (Zocor)

Simvastatin is the generic for Zocor. It is used to treat high cholesterol. Simvastatin may cause depression as a side effect.

Opioid Pain Medications That May Cause Depression

Certain pain medications may cause depression as a side effect. Belonging to a class of drugs known as opioid analgesics, these medications are used to treat severe pain.

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Fentanyl

Fentanyl is an opioid pain medication used to treat severe pain, such as that caused by cancer. Depression is a possible side effect of fentanyl.

Oxycodone (Generic Oxycontin)

Oxycodone is the generic for Oxycontin which is prescribed to treat severe pain. Depression may be a possible side effect of oxycodone.

The Risk of Opioid Use

Opioids are typically prescribed to treat pain but can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Inappropriate opioid use can lead to an overdose. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018 69.5% of drug related deaths were due to opioid overdoses.

Do not take opioids without a prescription. As with any other medication, if you are currently prescribed an opioid, take them as prescribed under the guidance of your health care provider. Always discuss symptoms, or changes in your medication dosage with your health care provider while taking an opioid medication.

Seizure Medications That May Cause Depression

Medications used to treat seizure disorder may cause depression as a side effect. Notify your health care provider if you experience depression as the result of taking these medications known as anticonvulsants, or antiepileptics.

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Gabapentin (Generic Neurontin)

Gabapentin is generic for the brand drug Neurontin. It may be prescribed to prevent and control seizures. Depression has been noted as a possible side of gabapentin.

Topiramate (Generic Topamaz)

Topiramate is used to prevent and control seizures caused by epilepsy. It may cause depression as a side effect.

Steroid Medications That May Cause Depression

Corticosteroid medications are used to treat a wide variety of inflammatory conditions ranging from arthritis to immune system disorders. Steroid medications have been associated with depression as a side effect. If you develop symptoms of depression while taking steroid medication, notify your health care provider.

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Prednisone

Prednisone is a commonly prescribed steroid medication. It helps to decrease your body’s immune response to a variety of health conditions. Prednisone may be linked to depression as a side effect.

What causes medication-related depression?

Medication-related depression is thought to be caused by an alteration of brain chemicals. Those who have a previous history of depression may be more likely to experience depression as a side effect of medication.

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Alert Your Health Care Provider Immediately if Your Medication is Making You Depressed

If you’ve recently begun a new prescription medication or increased your dosage of medication, and notice symptoms of depression, notify your health care provider immediately. Your health care provider may request that you track your symptoms in a journal, and will likely ask questions about other things going on in your life. If it is determined that your medication is causing depression, you may be prescribed a different medication.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley

Jen Hadley is a freelance writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, who writes extensively about the medical, legal, health care, and consumer products industries. Jen is a regular contributor to RxSaver.

Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS., is a pharmacist who earned her PharmD from St. John’s University in Queens, NY. She maintains an active practice, serving as a Board-Certified Pediatric Pharmacotherapy Specialist at a large metropolitan teaching hospital in New York City. Carina has also published in pharmacy journals and works as a consultant reviewing medical articles for publication.

The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

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