Too Depressed to Take Pills

Depressed reduces medication adherence

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Being depressed affects just about everything, including focus and energy. New research shows that depressed people tend not to take medications for their other conditions.

People who are depressed are less likely to take medicines for other health issues, according to a study by RAND Corporation. Not adhering to medication schedules - or what doctors call non-adherence - puts these people at greater risk of poor health.

"Depressed people are less likely to take medicines for other health issues."

"These findings provide the best evidence to date that depression is an important risk factor that may influence whether patients adhere to their medications," said Dr. Walid F. Gellad, the study's senior author and a natural scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "There are important implications for both patient health and for health care costs.

The study showed that people with depression are 76 percent less likely to keep up with their medication regimens compared to patients who were not depressed.

Poor adherence to prescribed medication is a well-known problem that is associated with higher death rates among people with chronic illnesses. It is also blamed for increasing U.S. health care costs.

The study is the largest systematic review to date to look at the role that depression plays in medication adherence among patients in the United States. Patients studied were taking medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, diabetes and asthma.

The findings were published online by the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The Study

  • Researchers from RAND and the Claremont Graduate School examined past studies that measured measured medication adherence
  • They combined information from 31 studies involving more than 18,000 people to examine the link between medication adherence and depression
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 13, 2011
Last Updated:
May 26, 2011