Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'




AARP Real Possibilities


Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 


ATM Mobile App for iPhone and Ipad

Enjoy the best of AARP’s award-winning publications

on the go with the new

AARP ePubs iPad App


AARP Games - Play Now!

Learning Centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.


Heart Disease


Most Popular


Ask the Pharmacist

Are My Meds Making Me Depressed?

Yes, some prescription drugs may cause depression symptoms

Q: I'm 72 and being treated for hypertension, hypothyroidism and swelling in my ankles. Shortly after I went on metoprolol for my hypertension, I started having strange dreams and difficulty sleeping all night. The doctor prescribed ramelteon to help me sleep, but it hasn't seemed to help. Then I started having leg cramps almost every night. The doctor prescribed a muscle relaxant, cyclobenzaprine, but I didn't like the way it made me feel, so I stopped taking it after the second dose. I also take levothyroxene for my thyroid condition and furosemide for the swelling.

See also: AARP Health Record is a safe place to manage your family's health information.

Through all this I have become more and more depressed. My doctor said he didn't think the medications were causing me to feel this way and I would just have to learn to live with it. Is he right? Is it just that I am getting older? Or is it possible that the medications are causing my depression?

A: The problems you're having are almost certainly related to the metoprolol, which is in a class of blood pressure medications called beta-blockers. Many doctors do not know that beta-blockers should not be prescribed to people over 60 with uncomplicated hypertension (high blood pressure without angina or heart failure), especially because they are associated with a higher risk of stroke and other adverse events, including new-onset diabetes and even death.

The nightmares, insomnia, muscle cramps and depression that you're experiencing are all telltale side effects of beta-blocker use in your age group. 

I would recommend that you ask your doctor about changing to a benzothiazepine calcium channel blocker — another form of blood-pressure medication. This would need to be done over five to 10 days to avoid problems related to sudden withdrawal of a beta-blocker. I'm confident that, with this change, you will no longer need the sleeping pill and the muscle relaxant, as they were dealing with problems caused by the metoprolol.

"Ask the Pharmacist" is written by Armon B. Neel Jr., PharmD, CGP, in collaboration with journalist Bill Hogan. They are co-authors of Are Your Prescriptions Killing You?, to be published this year by Atria Books.

Also of interest: Are your meds making you fat?

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Health blog

Discounts & Benefits

bring health To Life-Visual MD

AARP Bookstore

AARP Bookstore - woman reaches for book on bookshelf


Find titles on brain health, drug alternatives and losing weight. Do