Medications can help you overcome challenging medical conditions but can also cause unintended side effects — such as symptoms of depression.

Many medical conditions can involve the processes in your body.

Sometimes, treating one condition may mean increasing your chances of experiencing another condition — such as depression.

As many as one-third of adults in the United States may be taking medications that have nothing to do with depression but could increase their chance of experiencing symptoms of depression.

Seizure medications often work by manipulating the GABA neurotransmitter system in the brain. A 2017 study theorized that this system might be pivotal in developing depressive symptoms.

Similarly, medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease also target the neurotransmitter system, particularly the dopamine circuit. Dopamine is one of three primary chemicals often linked to mood regulation.

Common medications for seizures and Parkinson’s disease that may be linked to depression symptoms include:

Migraine and depression share many treatment options, and current management strategies for migraine often involve antidepressants, according to a 2019 review.

There’s conflicting evidence of whether migraine medications can lead to symptoms of depression.

Flunarizine (Sibelium), not available in the United States but is widely used in other countries, is a calcium-channel antagonist sometimes used in migraine maintenance. A 2011 review noted that flunarizine had been associated with depressive symptoms in earlier studies.

A 2019 review suggests that calcium channels are crucial for multiple neuronal processes and may have a link to a few mental health conditions, including depression.

Triptans, aka serotonin receptor agonists, ease migraine episodes by blocking pain receptors and combating vascular inflammation.

They’ve only once been associated with depressive symptoms in a 2000 epidemiologic study, which found the correlation insignificant.

There are many types of cardiovascular medications. Of these, several case reports note that symptoms of depression can follow the use of heart medications from the following drug classes:

  • angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • beta-blockers
  • calcium channel blockers
  • anti-adrenergic agents
  • thiazide diuretics
  • cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins

The exact correlation between cardiovascular medications and depression symptoms occurrence remains under debate.

A 2021 review, for example, found no association between beta-blocker therapy and depressive symptoms. However, depression was the most reported psychiatric side effect in the control and treatment groups.

A 2016 case evaluation series suggested that the use of statins could potentially have a negative impact on mood, including feelings of depression.

However, a 2021 review suggests that statins are unlikely to lead to depressive symptoms and may even have a role in treating depression.

Common cardiovascular medications that may be linked to depression symptoms include:

Common antibiotics and anti-infective medications that may be linked to depression include:

  • quinolones such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and levofloxacin (Levaquin)
  • cycloserine (Seromycin)
  • ethionamide (Trecator)
  • metronidazole (Metrogel, MetroCream)

While the chances that an antibiotic medication will cause depression are considered slim, a 2020 review suggests that antibiotic use has the potential to upset your natural gut-bacteria balance.

This disturbance may result in depressive symptoms related to brain-gut interactions, which influence inflammation and neurotransmitters.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are some of the most common antidepressants prescribed for treating depression.

This class of medications is also known for potentially making depressive symptoms worse initially or increasing the chances of suicidal ideation.

Researchers speculate a dual-action process is responsible for this increase in symptom severity. In a 2015 study, experts noted that SSRIs suppress glutamate levels and boost serotonin, a process that could account for the increase in depressive symptoms during early treatment.

Common SSRIs that may initially worsen depression symptoms include:

Other antidepressants that may initially make symptoms of depression worse include:

The relationship between cancer and depression is multifaceted. When you live with cancer, it can be natural to experience a depressed mood at times.

Cancer treatment itself is also complex, employing several medications that treat the cancer cells directly and treat the symptoms and side effects you may be experiencing.

Some cancer medications, such as those belonging to the class of taxane drugs, have been linked to cognitive impairment that may influence depressive symptoms, according to a 2021 review.

Other cancer medications that may be linked to symptoms of depression include:

  • procarbazine (Matulane)
  • tamoxifen
  • vincristine (Marqibo)
  • vinblastine (Velban)
  • paclitaxel (Taxol, Abraxane)
  • docetaxel (Taxotere, Docefrez)

A 2020 review supports the use of hormonal therapy in treating depression.

Hormones can influence several bodily functions beyond the endocrine system, including neurotransmitter activity in your brain circuitry.

As such, introducing hormone therapy for a purpose other than depression could directly impact depressive symptoms.

Common hormone therapy medications that may be linked to depression symptoms include:

  • anastrozole (Arimidex)
  • bicalutamide
  • cabergoline
  • conjugated estrogens
  • desogestrel
  • drospirenone
  • estradiol (Delestrogen, Yuvafem)
  • esterified estrogens (Menest)
  • estropipate (Ogen)
  • ethinyl estradiol
  • etonogestrel
  • exemestane (Aromasin)
  • goserelin (Zoladex)
  • hydroxyprogesterone
  • medroxyprogesterone (Depo-Provera)
  • megestrol
  • norethindrone (Jencycla, Norlyda)
  • tamoxifen (Soltamox)
  • testosterone
  • leuprolide (Lupron)
  • levonorgestrel (Mirena, Kyleena)
  • oxandrolone (Oxandrin)
  • progesterone

Corticosteroids are commonly prescribed to treat inflammation in the body. One of the most common side effects of corticosteroids is symptoms of depression.

A 2011 review suggests that corticosteroids can reduce serotonin — a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps regulate mood, sleep, and pain perception.

Long-term use of corticosteroids can also impact the hippocampus in the brain, which helps to regulate memory and emotions, as well as reduce gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels.

Common corticosteroids that have been linked to symptoms of depression include:

  • prednisone
  • cortisone
  • hydrocortisone

Drug-induced depression is possible.

Several medications can cause symptoms of depression, even those that may be used to treat conditions other than mental health.

Everyone responds to medications differently. Even if depression isn’t listed as a side effect on one of your prescriptions, you may still experience mood changes.

If you feel your mood is low and depressed, speaking with a mental health care professional and your prescribing medical team can help address drug-induced depression as quickly as possible.

For most people, symptoms improve after adjusting or stopping the medication causing depression.