"Stomach acid drugs might cause depression"

A link between a common class of stomach drugs called proton pump inhibitors and depression is found with a new study, now published in the journals of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. The researchers suggest that the pills might lead to major depressive disorder by disrupting the gut's bacteria.

Woman with stomach drugs
New research suggests that common stomach drugs may trigger depression by disrupting the gut-brain axis.

More and more studies are now pointing to the numerous ways in which our gut bacteria may influence both our mental and emotional well-being.

Germ-free mice that had been deprived of beneficial gut bacteria displayed symptoms of anxiety, depression, and cognitive impairment for instance, as per researchers.

Since the bacteria in our gut can alter the function of our brain by producing certain hormones or neurotransmitters — and emotional responses can, in turn, affect our gut bacteria — a link between post-traumatic stress disorder and certain strains of bacteria should come as no surprise as per these studies. Other studies have not only pinpointed specific bacteria whose absence can trigger symptoms of depression in rodents, but they have also shown that supplementing said bacteria can reverse signs of depression.

Stomach conditions
To treat acid-related stomach conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease — increase the risk of developing a major depressive disorder. An observational study suggests that proton pump inhibitors — which are a class of drugs typically prescribed. This is the leading cause of disability both in the United States and worldwide.

Wei-Sheng Huang, from the Department of Psychiatry at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, is the first author of the new study by which Stomach acid pills may disrupt gut-brain axis.

2,366 individuals who had been taking proton pump inhibitors and went on to develop depression as per Huang and team examination data. This was compared with 9,464 people who also took the drugs but did not develop depression.

The 9464 people who took drugs and did not take depression who was the latter group of participants was "matched for age, sex, enrollment time, endpoint time, and follow-up period."

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Psychiatric comorbidities such as anxiety and substance abuse disorders were applied by researchers for logistic regression analysis and adjusted for various demographic factors.

A daily dose of proton pump inhibitors for Patients with major depression had a greater prevalence of higher cumulative defined. The study revealed that, compared with those who did not develop a major depressive disorder. The risk of clinical depression increased for those who took the drugs pantoprazole, lansoprazole, and rabeprazole specifically. While for those who used omeprazole and esomeprazole, only a trend significance was noted.

This was the first study to investigate the association between proton pump inhibitor exposure and the risk of major depression to the best knowledge as per the study authors. The authors venture a couple of possible explanations while the mechanisms behind such an association remain mysterious.

By preventing the organism from properly absorbing nutrients after the use of stomach drugs, the drugs might raise depression risk by dysregulating the gut-brain axis, they suggest. The range of side effects that these drugs may have — which include pneumonia, bone fracture, and gastrointestinal infections. 

Physicians should continue to prescribe the drugs as and when needed still, as cautioned by the researchers. This is bearing in mind Huang and the team investigate the pathophysiology of the association they found and recommend that future studies