London | Antidepressants use may be more common in people who are later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease than those who do not develop the condition, a new study has found.
The study from the University of Eastern Finland shows that antidepressants are frequently initiated in persons with Alzheimer’s disease already before the diagnosis. Among people with Alzheimer’s disease, the initiation of antidepressant use was most common during the six months after the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and more frequent than among people without the disease even 4 years after the diagnosis.
Antidepressant initiation was more frequent among persons with Alzheimer’s disease already 9 years before the diagnosis than among comparison persons not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The findings may be related to more frequent treatment of depressive symptoms because depression has been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in previous studies.
The incidence of antidepressant use was higher in persons with AD than in comparison persons, and it was not explained by history of hospital-treated psychiatric disorders, the researchers said. Widespread use of antidepressants in persons with AD is concerning as their efficacy is controversial and their use is associated with adverse events, they said.
The study was based on 62,104 Finnish persons with Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed between 2005 and 2011. Antidepressant use was studied from nine years before until four years after the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. The difference in antidepressant initiations persisted during the entire follow-up period. During the 13-year follow-up period, 42 per cent of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and 22 per cent of persons not diagnosed with the disease initiated antidepressant use. The most commonly used antidepressant group was selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs, followed by mirtazapine.
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