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Medicines and Other Substances That Can Cause Symptoms of Depression

Many medicines and other substances can cause changes in how we feel. Some of these can cause symptoms of depression.

Medicines that may cause depression

Medicines that can cause symptoms of depression include:

  • Antihypertensives, such as clonidine (Catapres)

  • Barbiturates, such as phenobarbital, pentobarbital (Nembutal), and secobarbital (Seconal)

  • Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), or lorazepam (Ativan)

  • Calcium channel blockers, such as verapamil (Calan)

  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone

  • Hormone medicines, such as birth control pills (oral contraceptives) and hormone therapy used to treat the symptoms of menopause

  • Isotretinoin (Claravis, Accutane), the acne medicine

  • Medicines used to treat seizures

  • Pain medicines, such as codeine or hydrocodone

  • Varenicline (Chantix) used to help people quit smoking

This is not a complete list of medicines that can cause or worsen depression symptoms.

If you think that your feelings of depression may be caused by a medicine:

  • Call the healthcare provider who prescribed the medicine. They may advise you to stop taking it. Or they may have you take a different one.

  • If you are taking a medicine that has not been prescribed by your healthcare provider, stop taking it. Call your healthcare provider if you feel you need to keep taking the medicine. 

Other substances that may cause depression

Symptoms of depression can also be caused by the use of or withdrawal from:

  • Alcohol

  • Cocaine

  • Amphetamines (methamphetamines, crystal meth, or crack)

  • Heroin

  • Cannabis (marijuana)

If you need help stopping use of alcohol or illegal drugs, talk with your healthcare provider.


Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 7/1/2018
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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