New antidepressants 'may not be safe for older people'

Posted on 03 August 2011

A new type of antidepressant may not be safe for use in older people, a new study suggests, indicating that those paying for care may want to ask their doctor about their prescriptions.

Research published on bmj.com revealed that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are linked to an increased risk of several severe adverse outcomes in older people, compared to the older tricyclic (TCAs) antidepressants.

Depressed patients not taking medication had a seven per cent risk of dying of all-cause mortality in the following year compared to an 8.1 per cent chance in those on TCAs and 10.6 per cent in SSRIs.

SSRIs were seen to be associated with a higher vulnerability to all-cause mortality as well as stroke, fracture, epilepsy or seizures and hyponatraemia.

Professor Ian Hickie from the University of Sydney said: "Given the potential harms, the decision to prescribe for an older person with depression should not be taken lightly."

In other news, Pauline Etkin, chief executive officer at music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins, has said that music therapy could be used to treat depression.

Posted by Toby Mynott

 

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