Is Medication for Depression the Right Choice for Seniors?
Depression affects over 6 percent of Americans today. While it tends to affect those in younger age brackets more than it does seniors, older adults are certainly not immune to depression. Estimates suggest that only 1 to 5 percent of seniors still living at home or in a community setting are depressed. However, these numbers nearly triple among seniors who live in nursing homes or who are hospitalized. Depression should never be overlooked, and seniors dealing with this mental concern should certainly seek out treatments. Surprisingly, though, medication may not be the right answer for seniors.
Effects and Side-Effects of Antidepressants
While many side effects of antidepressants are the same in older adults as they are in younger adults, a few key concerns should be noted. First, seniors often have trouble ridding drugs from their bodies. Therefore, these drugs may gradually build up in the body, leading to increased side effects. Second, some research has shown that seniors taking such medications as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, also called SSRIs, which are a common treatment for depression, had increased negative events, such as falls and fractures, when compared to seniors taking placebos.
Thankfully, there are other treatment options for seniors struggling with depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy often works well for this population. In addition, many seniors can benefit from certain lifestyle changes, such as improved bedtime routines and increased exercise, which can naturally raise their positive brain chemical levels.