Study: Antidepressants are ineffective in dementia patients

Study: Antidepressants are ineffective in dementia patientsA recent study conducted by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London in England found that two of the most common antidepressants used in dementia patients are ineffective, and may even raise the risk of serious adverse side effects.

The study aimed to "assess efficacy and safety" of two medicines used to treat depression in dementia patients, sertraline (Zoloft) and mirtazapine (Remeron), compared to a placebo.

The researchers, led by Dr. Sube Banerjee, performed a double-blind Health Technology Assessment Study of the medicines in nine different centers of London, basing eligibility for the study on the patient's severity of Alzheimer's disease, clinical depression and dementia-bound depression. Patients who displayed a risk for suicide were dismissed from the study.

Participants in the study were randomly allocated by a computer to their appropriate clinical trial and were given a controlled amount of doses of either one of the two drugs, or a placebo.

The research team found that after 13 weeks of taking the medicine, decreases in depression, based on baseline scores taken prior to use of the drug, did not differ between 111 controls and 107 of the participants who were given Zoloft or Remeron.

The findings persisted for 39 weeks, until the end of the study. There were less adverse reactions among the controls than both the Zoloft and Remeron groups, and there were fewer severe adverse events among the control group. In each group, five people had died by the end of 39 weeks.

Dr. Banerjee suggests that the findings of the study should make doctors reconsider using the two drugs in dementia patients.

According to HealthDay, Dr. Henry Brodaty, a specialist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, said the study confirmed that clinicians need to think of "creative alternatives" when treating depression in people with dementia.