‘Unsuitable’ antidepressant drugs pose problem for aged


Older adults are easily susceptible to major depressive disorder. Data points to some 15-20 percent of people aged 65 and above, who live independently, deal with serious symptoms, and those in nursing homes face depression rates of up to 50 percent. 

However, researchers caution against the harmful effects of antidepressants for treating major depressive disorder in older adults, report agencies.

A systematic review was performed at the University of Connecticut Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC), US, where researchers looked at patients of 65 years or older who were prescribed serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) to treat the acute phase of major depressive disorder. They found that taking SNRIs led to a number of harmful events – older adults who took SSRIs experienced about the same number of harmful events as did people who took a placebo. Furthermore, the researchers noted that the harmful events from SNRIs also led to a significant number of participants who left the study.

Diana Sobieraj, an Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut’s School of Pharmacy reiterates, “Studies of antidepressants don’t often describe specific side effects – future research in this field is critical to better inform how the safety profiles of different antidepressants compare in older adults.”

In lieu of the development, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) advises healthcare providers against prescribing certain antidepressant medications to older adults who have a history of falls or fractures, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), as these medications may actually increase the risk of falls and fractures. The study backs this reasoning – the drug duloxetine, an SSRI, was observed to increase the risk of falls.