Drug Safety

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 203–219

Drug-Induced Depression

Incidence, Avoidance and Management
  • Scott B. Patten
  • Edgar J. Love
Review Article Pharmacoepidemiology

DOI: 10.2165/00002018-199410030-00003

Cite this article as:
Patten, S.B. & Love, E.J. Drug-Safety (1994) 10: 203. doi:10.2165/00002018-199410030-00003


According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III-R), drug-induced depression may be classified as an Organic Mood Syndrome, Depressed Type. Unfortunately, the DSM-III-R diagnostic criteria are not sufficiently precise for application in research, and studies of drug-induced depression have rarely utilised these criteria.

Research concerned with drug-induced depression is characterised by a number of methodological complications. These include differing definitions of depression, including depression defined as a symptom, a syndrome, or by diagnostic criteria for a specific mental disorder. In addition, patients undergoing pharmacological treatments for medical illnesses are typically exposed to considerable psychosocial stress due to the suffering and disability associated with illness. These psychosocial factors may in themselves precipitate episodes of depression.

Due to these complicating factors, sophisticated study designs are required to confirm an aetiological role for medications as risk factors for depression. Unfortunately, adequate studies have rarely been conducted, and much of the literature consists of case reports and clinical observations. Consequently, clinicians are frequently required to make clinical judgements about the aetiology of patients’ depressive symptoms in the absence of definitive scientific informationabout the role of drugs. Nevertheless, a knowledge of the relevant literature will assist clinicians in making reasoned judgements about the aetiology, prevention and management of these disorders.

Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott B. Patten
    • 1
  • Edgar J. Love
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of MedicineThe University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada