Feeling Depressed After Taking Your Asthma Meds? Here's why
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has recently published new public health warnings on a popular asthma medication, Singulair, which is currently used by over 20,000 Australians.
This medication is the cause of 58 separate reports of adverse psychiatric effects in children and teenagers, as serious as suicidal ideation and depression over the last 13 years.
Other reported effects of this medication include altered moods, nightmares, insomnia and agitation.
In fact, many patients taking the medication experienced multiple psychiatric symptoms concurrently.
Although this number in incidents seems fairly low, the TGA explains that “the inherent difficulty in establishing psychiatric diagnoses in children could contribute to under-reporting of related effects to the TGA”.
Treatment outcomes like this aren't particularly surprising for a medication with product warnings including possible side effects of agitation, aggressive behavior or hostility, anxiousness, depression, disorientation, disturbance in attention, dream abnormalities, hallucinations, insomnia, irritability, memory impairment, restlessness, somnambulism and suicidal thinking.
What is surprising is the fact that Singulair was manufacturing company, Merck's biggest selling drug worldwide and made around $5 billion profit per year until 2012 when its patent expired, despite it's potential side effects.
There is now more competition on the market as cheaper generic brands have made the same formula available.
How Does It Work?
Singulair acts as a leukotriene receptor antagonist which blocks specific inflammatory mediators to reduce airway constriction (bronchoconstriction).
Singulair is indicated for asthma prophylaxisis and chronic treatment rather than acute treatment. It is prescribed to adults and children as young as 12 months old, and is often used as an add on to inhaled corticosteroid treatments for asthma.
Other uses for the drug include treatment for allergic rhinitis, seasonal allergic rhinitis and exercise-induced asthma.
Where To Go From Here
As with any medication, it is essential for practitioners to weigh up the risks vs. benefits of the drug and base their prescription on the most safe and efficacious treatments available.
It is also the personal responsibility of anyone choosing to take a medication, or allowing their children to take a medication educate themselves about potential risks of the drug, and to closely monitor any adverse effects.
While it is clear that not everyone experiences psychiatric effects from taking Singulair, studies have found that people with asthma and atopic conditions are more vulnerable to neuropsychotic symptoms than the general population to begin with.
Other factors increasing risk of psychiatric side effects from Singulair may include preexisting mental conditions, a family history of mental illness, additional psychological triggers or susceptibilities to mood disorders.
Once you know the facts, it's a gamble you may not want to take with your child's health or your own.
Fortunately, in the case of asthma, there are often many lifestyle, environmental and dietary factors that can be adjusted to safely manage the symptoms of the condition without the use of serious medications.