New research is pointing to more proton pump inhibitor complications, this time a possible link to major depressive disorder.
The findings come as concerns continue to mount over the side effects potentially associated with the use of these popular heart burn drugs, including Nexium, Prilosec and PrevAcid.
The authors of this study, which was recently published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, noted that earlier research has supported the role of a “brain-gut axis” in the pathophysiology of major depression. They further noted that while the inappropriate and long-term use of proton pump inhibitors can alter the intestinal environment, influence gut bacteria, and affect nutrient absorption, the association between the drugs and depression remains unknown.
For their study, the research team compared data on 2,366 individuals who had been taking proton pump inhibitors and went on to develop depression to 9,464 people who also took the drugs but did not develop depression. Study subjects were matched for age, sex, enrollment time, end point time, and follow-up period.”
The analysis suggested that “patients with major depression had a greater prevalence of higher cumulative defined daily dose” of proton pump inhibitors.
The risk of clinical depression increased among those taking Protonix (pantoprazole), PrevAcid (lansoprazole), and Aciphex (rabeprazole). A “trend association” was noted in regards to Prilosec (omeprazole) and Nexium (esomeprazole).
The study appears to be the first to investigate the association between proton pump inhibitors and the risk of major depression. Its authors called for further research to investigate the pathophysiology of their findings.
In 2013, an estimated 15 million Americans took prescription proton pump inhibitors to control GERD and other digestive disorders associated with the over-production of stomach acid. Millions more use over-the-counter versions of these drugs, such as Nexium 24HR, PrevAcid 24HR and Prilosec OTC.
While they are only approved for short-term use, studies have suggested that between 25% and 70% of proton pump inhibitor prescriptions have no appropriate indication.
Because they have become so pervasive, few people give little thought to the side effects potentially associated with proton pump inhibitors. However, a growing body of research has suggested that people who take these drugs for an extended period of time may be at increased risk for gastric cancer, certain bone fractures, heart attacks, dementia, B12 deficiency, low magnesium levels, kidney damage, C. diff infections and pneumonia.
Hundreds of people are currently pursuing proton pump inhibitor lawsuits for serious renal complications – including kidney failure, chronic kidney disease, acute interstitial nephritis, and acute kidney injury – allegedly connected with the long-term use of Nexium and similar heartburn medications. The manufacturers of these drugs are accused of concealing information linking proton pump inhibitors to kidney failure and other renal side effects, with plaintiffs asserting that their injuries could have been avoided had proper warnings been provided to patients and doctors.