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Review: ß-Blocker Therapy Not Linked to Depression

MONDAY, March 15, 2021 -- There seems to be no association between ß-blocker therapy and depression, according to a study published online March 15 in Hypertension.

Thomas G. Riemer, M.D., Ph.D., from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of data from double-blind, randomized controlled trials to assess the risk for psychiatric adverse events (PAEs) or withdrawal of therapy due to PAEs related to the use of ß-blockers. Odds ratios were calculated for individual PAEs and withdrawal rates for ß-blockers versus placebo or other active treatment. Data were included for 285 eligible studies with 53,533 patients.

In 79 percent of the studies, the risk for bias was determined to be high. The researchers found that depression was the most frequently reported PAE, with a total of 1,600 cases, but it did not occur more commonly during ß-blocker treatment versus placebo (odds ratio, 1.02; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.83 to 1.25). There was no association seen for ß-blocker use with withdrawal for depression (odds ratio, 0.97; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.51 to 1.84). For comparisons against active agents, results were similar. Only unusual dreams, insomnia, and sleep disorders were possibly related to ß-blocker therapy among other PAEs.

"The possible mental health side effects of ß-blockers have been the subject of discussion in the scientific community for many decades," a coauthor said in a statement. "So, our results showing ß-blockers are not the cause of so many of these negative side effects are quite consequential."

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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