In a study published in the journal Hypertension, researchers have suggested a possible link between blood pressure drugs and increased risk of depression.

Researchers have found that people who are on blood pressure medicines including beta-blockers and calcium antagonists were at twice the risk of hospital admission for depression as compared to patients on angiotensin antagonists. Out of the four common classes of antihypertensive drugs and risk of mood disorders, two of the drugs were associated with an increased risk for mood disorders.

Researchers at University of Glasgow in the UK collected data on 525,046 patients (ages 40-80) from two large secondary care Scottish hospitals out of which they eventually selected 144,066 patients being treated for hypertension with either angiotensin antagonists, beta blocker, calcium channel blockers or thiazide diuretics and compared them to a group of 111,936 patients not taking any of those drugs.

The patients were followed for five years documenting hospitalisation for mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder. After more than 90 days on the antihypertensive medications, they found that there were 299 hospital admissions, predominantly due to major depression, among the patients studied, at an average 2.3 years after patients began antihypertensive treatment. Patients on beta-blockers and calcium antagonists were at two-fold increased risk of hospital admission for mood disorder, compared to patients on angiotensin antagonists.

Patients on angiotensin antagonists had the lowest risk for hospitalisation with mood disorders compared to patients on other blood pressure medicines and patients on no antihypertensive therapy. Those taking thiazide diuretics showed the same risk for mood disorders compared to patients taking no antihypertensive medicines.

The presence of co-existing medical conditions increased the risk of mood disorders. These findings suggest that angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers that are used to treat hypertension may be useful as new or “repurposed” treatments for mood disorders, according to scientists involved with the study.


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