Antidepressants May Be Harmful For The Elderly
Antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the United States, and they may be harmful for older patients.
Their popularity has led to a marked decline in the use of the older, generally cheaper, tricyclic antidepressants. Both types of antidepressants are equally effective, the St. Louis Post reported.
A recent article in the British Medical Journal used a large collection of anonymous health records called Q Research to examine the side effects of antidepressants on the elderly, of whom 10 percent get depression.
British researchers studied over 60,000 people older than 65 who had depression.
They found that people who took the older, tricyclic antidepressants had a lower death risk from the drug than those taking the modern antidepressants. Two commonly used drugs, trazodone and mirtazapine [Remeron], were linked to higher death risk and hisher risk of attempted suicide.
The study has raised major questions about the potential dangers of antidepressants for older people. Patients should discuss with their physicians the potential side effects of all types of antidepressants and consider using behavior therapy as another option.
"The field is waiting for the next breakthrough in terms of new treatments, through new mechanisms," said Dr. Alan Schatzberg, the chairman of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine. "That's what people are hungering for."