Atenolol and Depression
There are some potential side effects associated with the use of atenolol, and depression has been documented in up to 12 percent of people who take the drug. However, it is still not clear whether depression is actually caused by the atenolol, other specific factors, or a combination of factors. Some possible symptoms of depression include feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness; a persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood; and loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed. If you develop symptoms of depression while on atenolol, let your healthcare provider know.
Is Depression an Atenolol Side Effect?
There are several possible side effects for people taking atenolol (Tenormin®). Depression does appear to be one of the more common side effects reported in clinical studies. However, because it was seen almost as frequently in those taking a placebo (a “sugar pill” with no active ingredients), it is difficult to say whether depression is actually caused by the atenolol, other specific factors, or a combination of factors.
Understanding Clinical Studies
Before medicines are approved, they must go through several clinical studies in which thousands of people are given a particular medicine and compared to a group of people not given the medicine. In these studies, side effects are always documented. This way, it is possible to see what side effects occur, how often they appear, and how they compare to the group not taking the medicine. Side effects are then usually separated into those that occur in more than 1 percent of people and those that occur in less than 1 percent of people.
For people taking atenolol, depression was a reported side effect. In fact, it was one of the most commonly reported side effects. However, it was also one of the most commonly reported side effects in people taking a placebo. Depression was reported in up to 12 percent of people taking atenolol and 9 percent of people taking the placebo (sugar pill).