Common high blood pressure drugs have surprising effect on depression

Many different antihypertensive drugs are prescribed to patients suffering from high blood pressure, some more common than others. A new study evaluated dozens of these drugs for their potential influence on depression, a common mental health condition that is linked to hypertension. The research was published by the American Heart Association and found that while the 41 most commonly prescribed high blood pressure drugs don't increase the depression risk, a small number of them may significantly decrease it.

Hypertension, most commonly called high blood pressure, is a common condition that can be chronic, requiring treatment to prevent a variety of potential long-term health consequences. Researchers note that people who suffer from high blood pressure are also more likely to experience depression, leading them to investigate whether antihypertensive drugs may be increasing that risk.

Of the 41 most commonly taken high blood pressure drugs, 37 of them have approval from the FDA for use in the United States. These medications fall into four broad categories, including common ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, calcium antagonists, and diuretics. The study involves an analysis of real-life information on more than three million adults who took one of these 41 medications for hypertension.

Based on that body of data, the new study didn't find any link between these 41 drugs and an increased risk of developing depression. However, and quite surprisingly, the study did find that nine of the drugs were associated with 'significantly lowered depression risk,' including four beta-blockers, three calcium-antagonists, and two angiotensin agents.

Diuretics were the only category of antihypertensive drugs that showed neither an increase nor a decrease on depression risk, according to the researchers. The reasons for these antidepressant benefits may be related to the drugs' ability to decrease inflammation. The nine medications are:

- Verapamil (including combinations)

- Atenolol

- Amlodipine

- Bisoprolol

- Carvedilol

- Propranolol

- Enalapril

- Ramipril