The relationship between antihypertensive medications and mood disorders: analysis of linked healthcare data for 1.8 million patients

Richard J Shaw, Daniel Mackay, Jill P Pell, Sandosh Padmanabhan, David S Bailey, Daniel J Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Recent work suggests that antihypertensive medications may be useful as repurposed treatments for mood disorders. Using large-scale linked healthcare data we investigated whether certain classes of antihypertensive, such as angiotensin antagonists (AAs) and calcium channel blockers, were associated with reduced risk of new-onset major depressive disorder (MDD) or bipolar disorder (BD).

METHOD: Two cohorts of patients treated with antihypertensives were identified from Scottish prescribing (2009-2016) and hospital admission (1981-2016) records. Eligibility for cohort membership was determined by a receipt of a minimum of four prescriptions for antihypertensives within a 12-month window. One treatment cohort (n = 538 730) included patients with no previous history of mood disorder, whereas the other (n = 262 278) included those who did. Both cohorts were matched by age, sex and area deprivation to untreated comparators. Associations between antihypertensive treatment and new-onset MDD or bipolar episodes were investigated using Cox regression.

RESULTS: For patients without a history of mood disorder, antihypertensives were associated with increased risk of new-onset MDD. For AA monotherapy, the hazard ratio (HR) for new-onset MDD was 1.17 (95% CI 1.04-1.31). Beta blockers' association was stronger (HR 2.68; 95% CI 2.45-2.92), possibly indicating pre-existing anxiety. Some classes of antihypertensive were associated with protection against BD, particularly AAs (HR 0.46; 95% CI 0.30-0.70). For patients with a past history of mood disorders, all classes of antihypertensives were associated with increased risk of future episodes of MDD.

CONCLUSIONS: There was no evidence that antihypertensive medications prevented new episodes of MDD but AAs may represent a novel treatment avenue for BD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Medicine
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jan 2020

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