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Antidepressants for Seniors Have Doubled in Two Decades

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

side effects of antidepressants

Story at-a-glance -

  • There’s been a major rise in the number of antidepressants being prescribed for older adults over the last two decades, without a similarly sharp increase in the number depressed
  • In the first study group, 4.2% of the adults were taking antidepressants, but this jumped to 10.7% in the later study
  • Among older adults living in care homes, the prevalence of depression was unchanged but the use of antidepressants rose from 7.4% to 29.2%
  • Most of those prescribed antidepressants had not been diagnosed with depression
  • Antidepressants are often ineffective for treating depression and pose risks to the elderly, including increasing the risk of falls, osteoporosis and fractures

Depression is common in older adults, occurring in 2% of those aged 55 years and older and rising with increasing age. Many more — from 10% to 15% — struggle with depressive symptoms, although they may not have been diagnosed with major depression.

That being said, there’s been a major rise in the number of antidepressants being prescribed for older adults over the last two decades, without a similarly sharp increase in the number depressed, according to a study published in The British Journal of Psychiatry.


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