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Fam Med. 2014 Jun;46(6):447-53.

Beta-blockers and depression in elderly hypertension patients in primary care.

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Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands.



Previous findings regarding a possible association between beta-blocker use and depression are mixed. To our knowledge there have been no studies investigating the association of beta-blockers with depression in primary care hypertension patients without previous myocardial infarction. The aim of this study was to determine the relation between lipophilic beta-blocker use and depression in elderly primary care patients with hypertension.


This was a cross-sectional study in primary care practices located in the South of The Netherlands. Primary care hypertension patients without previous myocardial infarction or heart failure (n=573), aged between 60 and 85 years (mean age=70±6.6), were included. All patients underwent a structured interview that included a self-report questionnaire to assess depression (PHQ-9), which was divided in four groups (PHQ-9 score of 0, 1--3, 4--8, 9 or higher).


A PHQ-9 score of 0 was more prevalent in non-beta-blocker users versus lipophilic beta-blocker users (46% versus 35%), a PHQ-9 score of 4--8 was less prevalent in non-beta-blocker users as compared with lipophilic beta-blocker users (14% versus 25%). A chi-squared test showed that lipophilic beta-blocker users as compared to non-beta-blockers users were more likely to be in a higher depression category. Ordinal regression showed a significant relationship between use of lipophilic beta-blockers and depression (OR=1.60, 95% CI=1.08--2.36) when adjusting for potential confounders.


Our findings show that primary care hypertension patients who use a lipophilic beta-blocker are more likely to have higher depression scores than those who do not use a lipophilic beta-blocker.

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