Should Beta Blockers Be Used in the Treatment of Hypertension in the Elderly?

L. Michael Prisant, MD

In This Article

Do Beta Blockers Cause Depression?

While reversible depression has been reported with blockers, as well as other classes of antihypertensive medications, short-term, cross sectional studies have not documented an increased rate of depression. In a prospective study, the relative rate of depression was measured by the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale in patients from four hypertension treatment groups.[66] Treatment groups consisted of 466 patients receiving: 1) no drug therapy; 2) diuretics only; 3) diuretics plus reserpine; or 4) diuretics plus blockers. Using a Zung index ≥50, the rate of depression among those taking reserpine or blockers was no different than that among those receiving either no treatment or diuretics (Figure 2). Neither reserpine nor blocker therapy caused more depression than any other antihypertensive treatment. More recent placebo-controlled studies support this observation.[62] However, physicians have noted some loss of cognitive function or depression when very high doses of reserpine or propranolol had been given.

Average Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale index by drug group. There was no difference in the rate of depression. Derived from Prisant et al.[66]