Antidepressants Found Lacking for Seniors With Dementia

Research findings suggest rethinking prescription practices for these patients

TUESDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- Seniors with dementia who are prescribed antidepressants may not reap any benefit from the medication, but they do experience some adverse effects, according to research published online July 18 in The Lancet.

Sube Banerjee, M.D., of King's College London, and colleagues randomly assigned seniors with depression and dementia to sertraline or mirtazapine (107 and 108 subjects, respectively), or placebo (111 subjects), to analyze the effect of the two commonly prescribed antidepressants on treating depression in people with dementia.

The researchers found that, at 13 weeks, there was no difference in depression scores among patients receiving the drugs or placebo, or between patients in the two drug groups; patients taking the antidepressants experienced more side effects than the control group. These findings remained the same through 39 weeks, by which point five patients in each group had died.

"Because of the absence of benefit compared with placebo and increased risk of adverse events, the present practice of use of these antidepressants, with usual care, for first-line treatment of depression in Alzheimer's disease should be reconsidered," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies.

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