New Research Suggests a Link Between Depression Drugs and Dementia
Many drugs have unpleasant and potentially dangerous side-effects. Often the drug companies fail to warn of the downsides of taking these drugs. A study released this week has pointed to a link between depression drugs and dementia in older people.
The new study from the United Kingdom examined certain classes of anticholinergic drugs — particularly drugs used to treat depression, urinary incontinence, and Parkinson’s.
A CNN report noted anticholinergic drugs block the effects of acetylcholine, a chemical released by the nerve cells to send signals to other nerves and muscles.
These drugs are prescribed to as many as 20 percent to 50 percent of older adults in the United States. They treat a wide variety of respiratory, neurological, psychiatric, gastrointestinal, and muscular conditions. The research was carried out in the United Kingdom where 34 percent to 48 percent of older adults take the drugs.
Research in the British Medical Journal, evaluated the risk of the onset of dementia among almost 350,000 older adults in the United Kingdom. It found found people who used certain types of anticholinergics for over a year had about a 30 percent increased risk of eventually developing dementia.
The potential link between depression drugs and dementia is an alarming one given the widespread use of these drugs.
The drugs implicated in the largest study of its kind include tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline. These drugs are also prescribed for pain and to help with sleeping. The study also implicated SSRI class, and paroxetine drugs (also known as Seroxat).
In Britain as well as in the United States, older people are using more and more drugs.
The researchers pointed to the increasing tendency of older people to be using a cocktail of drugs for different conditions, suggesting this may be leading to dementia issues.
The researchers pulled up medical records of more than 40,000 people over the age of 65 with dementia and nearly 300,000 people without dementia. They investigated prescribing records for up to two decades years earlier, to discover whether there was a link between the anticholinergic drugs they were prescribed and a later diagnosis of dementia.
We were alarmed to read about this potential link between depression drugs and dementia. Many products manufactured and marketed by the big drug companies have terrible side effects. Often the pharmaceutical companies have failed to do adequate research or put profits before patient safety.
If you have been harmed by a dangerous drug or a medical device you may have grounds to join a class action lawsuit. Our Virginia dangerous drugs lawyers can advise you on a course of action. To learn more, contact us at 757.455.0077 or online to schedule a free consultation.