Adults aged 60 and above who are diagnosed with depression should be given both anti-depressant and antipsychotic drugs to relieve symptoms, according to a research performed by the Healthy Mind Laboratory at Washington University School of Medicine.
In a press release, Healthy Mind Laboratory director Dr Eric J. Lenze said depression in older adults may require different strategies even if conventional treatments were proven effective to patients in their 30s. To prove their hypothesis, researchers recruited 468 participants over a four-year period from 2009 to 2013 to undergo two-stage clinical trials.
Initially, subjects were given a dose of venlafaxine, a known major anti-depressant drug, for 12 weeks. By the end of the first phase, 181 subjects who showed no remission from depression symptoms moved on to the second stage.
On the second phase, the remaining 40 percent were then subjected to doses of venlafaxine together with aripiprazole, a known antipsychotic drug, or a placebo. The results showed that patients who received the two-drug treatment exhibited remission as compared to the 29 percent under the placebo test.
Researchers concluded that the two-drug treatment, which was initially found to be successful in younger adults, were also effective in older adults. Dr Benoit Mulsant, senior scientist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, said the study posed significant findings that treating adults with depression is an effective way to lessen the risks of dementia.
According to a 2009 report by Improving the Management and Outcomes of Late-Life Depression, at least 1 out of 3 older patients in Canada suffer from a major depressive disorder, while 8 to 16 percent of these patients show signs of clinical depression. Unfortunately, only 1 out of 3 senior patients receive inappropriate treatment or no treatment at all.
Canada has one of the higher risks of suicide particular among males. Depression is also identified as a major risk factor in developing dementia among patients aged 60 and up. Patients diagnosed with clinical depression require more primary health care, not to mention that patients have difficulty in functioning independently.
Co-author Daniel Blumberger said late-life depression is not a normal process of aging and should be addressed independently from other health diagnoses. Researchers added that they hope to provide evidence-based results among primary care physicians that the venlafaxine-aripiprazole drug tandem is proven safe and efficient; albeit, some patients experienced stiffness and restlessness. The study was published in the journal The Lancet.