Past studies have associated antidepressant use among people with Alzheimer's disease with an increased risk of falls and hip fractures. Now, new research published in Alzheimer's Research & Therapy has found yet another reason why people with Alzheimer's disease shouldn't use antidepressants…
The study, which was conducted by researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, reveals that antidepressant use among people with Alzheimer's disease can also boost risk of head injuries and traumatic brain injuries. Read on for the full scoop.
People with Alzheimer’s disease who use antidepressants have a higher risk of head injuries
The study constitutes part of the nationwide register-based MEDALZ study, which includes all community-dwelling people who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in Finaland between 2005 and 2011.
To reach their findings, the researchers looked at 10,910 of these people who were antidepressant users and 21,820 who were nonusers. They found that antidepressant use was linked to a higher risk of head injuries, especially at the beginning of their use – during the first 30 days. However, they noted that the risk persisted even longer – up to two years.
The researchers also found a link between antidepressant use and increased risk of traumatic brain injuries, but this link wasn’t as clear as for head injuries. They speculated that this may be due to a smaller number of these events in the study population.
The researchers clarified that the use of other psychotropic drugs didn’t explain these links that they observed.
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Head injuries are more common among older people than younger ones…
Head injuries, which are usually caused by falling, are more common among older people than younger ones. Because past studies have linked antidepressant use to an increased risk of falling, the researchers behind this new study weren’t surprised antidepressant use also increased the risk of head injuries.
“However, our findings give cause for concern because people with Alzheimer’s disease frequently use antidepressants, which have been considered a safer alternative to, for example, benzodiazepines,” reported senior researcher, Heidi Taipale.
“Our study population consisted of persons diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, but it’s likely that the risk is similar also in other older persons without Alzheimer’s disease. This is something we will be studying in the future,” Taipale concluded.
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