In a new study, researchers found beta-blockers treat heart diseases and were not more likely to cause depression compared to other similar treatments.
While depression may occur during beta-blocker therapy, the research suggests beta-blockers are not the likely cause.
However, unusual dreams, insomnia and sleep disorders may be linked to beta-blockers.
The research was conducted by a team at the Berlin Institute of Health.
Beta-blockers are a class of medications that reduce the heart rate, the heart’s workload and the heart’s output of blood, which, together, lower blood pressure.
They are a common treatment for cardiovascular diseases, including heart failure, arrhythmias, chest pains and high blood pressure.
Researchers have suspected beta-blockers of having negative psychological side effects, including depression, anxiety, drowsiness, insomnia, hallucinations and nightmares.
In the study, the team analyzed data for more than 50,000 individuals from 258 studies including beta-blockers.
Nearly 70% of the studies were clinical trials focused on high blood pressure treatment, and 31 assessed depression.
The team found despite being the most frequently reported mental health side effect, depression did not occur more frequently during beta-blocker treatment compared to placebo treatment.
The rate of discontinuing medication use due to depression was not any different for those taking beta-blockers compared to those on other treatments.
Unusual dreams, insomnia and sleep disorders may be linked to beta-blockers.
Among the mental health events analyzed, the most common reason for discontinuing beta-blockers was fatigue/tiredness.
The results indicate that concerns about adverse mental health events, especially depression, should not affect the decision about beta-blockers.
Beta-blockers are mostly safe regarding psychological health.
However, sleep-related symptoms such as unusual dreams or insomnia did emerge during beta-blocker therapy for some patients.
The study is published in Hypertension. One author of the study is Reinhold Kreutz, M.D., Ph.D.
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