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Drug-Induced Depression: A Systematic Review to Inform Clinical Practice

Patten S.B.a · Barbui C.b
aDepartments of Community Health Sciences and Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada; bDepartment of Medicine and Public Health, Section of Psychiatry, University of Verona, Ospedale Policlinico, Verona, Italy Psychother Psychosom 2004;73:207–215 (DOI:10.1159/000077739)


Background: Certain medications may contribute to the etiology of depressive symptoms and disorders. Research in this area, however, has been hampered by methodological and conceptual problems. This review had two objectives: to identify evidence linking medical drugs to depressive symptoms and disorders, and to summarize this evidence in a clinically meaningful way. Methods: Electronic literature searches were performed and studies were reviewed with reference to critical methodological features. Results: No medications causing the typical major depressive syndrome were identified. Evidence was found linking corticosteroids, interferon-α, interleukin-2, gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, mefloquine, progestin-releasing implanted contraceptives and propranolol to the etiology of atypical depressive syndromes. Conclusions: A small number of drugs have been shown capable of inducing depressive symptoms. Drug-induced depression appears to differ symptomatically from classical major depression.


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