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Antidepressants 'could increase risks to elderly'

Elderly people who take recently-developed antidepressants could be more likely to develop a string of health problems as a result, according to a new report published this week.

Researchers at universities in Nottingham and East Anglia found that over-65s prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) had a death rate of 10.1 per cent, as opposed to 8.1 per cent among those on tricyclic antidepressants.

The study, printed in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal, examined data relating to 60,000 patients from that particular age group collected between 1996 and 2007. Risks were highest within the first 28 days, the scientists claimed.

"Given the potential harms, the decision to prescribe for an older person with depression should not be taken lightly," the University of Sydney's Professor Ian Hickie observed in an accompanying editorial article.

A separate investigation published in the Lancet last week suggested that dementia sufferers feel little benefit from antidepressants including mirtazapine and sertraline.

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Antidepressants 'could increase risks to elderly'
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