Digitalis and beta-blocking agents: effects on depression following myocardial infarction

Am Heart J. 1991 May;121(5):1397-402. doi: 10.1016/0002-8703(91)90144-7.


Depression is frequently seen in patients following myocardial infarction (MI), many of whom are receiving digitalis glycosides, beta-blockers, or other agents that may exert central nervous system (CNS) effects. In a prospective study of the clinical significance of post-MI depression, 335 patients were assessed using a standardized diagnostic interview for depression at 8 to 10 days, and 190 were reinterviewed at 3 to 4 months. Patients prescribed digitalis, beta-blockers, or other cardioactive medications at hospital discharge were identified. Logistic regression analyses were performed to determine the contribution of these agents to depression at 3 to 4 months, controlling for medical and sociodemographic factors as well as for baseline depression. Treatment with digitalis predicted depression at 3 to 4 months (p less than 0.05); no other medications, including beta-blockers, predicted depression (p greater than 0.10). Digitalis may have CNS effects that contribute to depression post-MI and this finding should be considered in the differential diagnosis of depression in cardiac patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / adverse effects*
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Depressive Disorder / chemically induced*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Digitalis Glycosides / adverse effects*
  • Digitalis Glycosides / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / drug therapy
  • Myocardial Infarction / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Time Factors


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Digitalis Glycosides