Evidence-Based Reviews

Do beta blockers cause depression?

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Beta blockers and depression: Is there a link?

Bright et al, 19923Case-control study of 4,302 patients with new-onset depressionBeta-blocker use was not associated with depression after controlling for confounding factors, although depressed patients were more likely to receive beta blockers
van Melle et al, 20064A prospective study of post-myocardial infarction patients; 254 taking beta blockers, 127 controlsNo significant differences in depressive symptoms or incidence of depressive disorder between beta-blocker users and nonusers
Gerstman et al, 19965New users of propranolol (n=704) other beta blockers (n=587), angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (n=976), calcium channel blockers (n=742), and diuretics (n=773)Depression occurred no more frequently among beta-blocker users than other subjects
Ko et al, 20026Quantitative review of randomized trials that tested beta blockers in myocardial infarction, heart failure, and hypertensionBeta-blocker therapy was not associated with a significant absolute annual increase in risk of depressive symptoms (6 per 1,000 patients; 95% confidence interval, -7 to 19)

Related resources

  • Rivelli S, Jiang W. Depression and ischemic heart disease: what have we learned from clinical trials? Curr Opin Cardiol. 2007;22(4):286-291.
  • National guideline clearinghouse. Secondary prevention of coronary artery disease. www.guideline.gov/summary/summary.aspx?doc_id=14585.

Drug brand names

  • Atenolol • Tenormin
  • Digoxin • Lanoxin
  • Metoprolol • Lopressor, Toprol-XL
  • Propranolol • Inderal
  • Timolol • Blocadren


The authors report no financial relationship with any company whose products are mentioned in this article or with manufacturers of competing products.

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