Antidepressants are OVERPRESCRIBED to older patients who are at high risk for “clinically significant depression,” warns study
04/09/2019 // Ethan Huff // Views

A new study published in the British Pharmacological Society's Pharmacology Research & Perspectives journal confirms that antidepressant drugs such as SSRIs (selective serotonin reputake inhibitors) are prescribed way more often than they should be, including among the elderly.

Researchers looked at senior-age individuals living in Olmsted County, Minnesota, evaluating their antidepressant use between the years of 2005 and 2012. What they discovered is that overprescription of these mind-altering medications had occurred in at least one-quarter, or 25 percent, of elderly residents living in this area.

The most likely demographic to be taking antidepressants unnecessarily was older folks living in nursing homes, the paper reveals, as well as patients with a higher than average number of co-morbid medical conditions. Outpatients, those taking more concomitant medications, and those using a greater number of acute care services, as well as those who received prescriptions via telephone, email, or patient portal, were also found to be victims of antidepressant overprescription.

"Our results, in agreement with others, suggest that the potential overprescribing of antidepressants may occur more often in elderly people who have a higher degree of clinical complexity or severity," stated Dr. William Bobo from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, and the study's lead author.

"This is important to consider because these individuals may be at especially high risk for clinically significant depression, and clinicians may be left with relatively little time to discuss the individual concerns that may prompt the issuing of an antidepressant prescription. This is something that we would like to look into in future studies," he added.


Are antidepressants being overprescribed on purpose as a form of population reduction among the elderly?

Aside from the fact that it's easier to get away with needlessly prescribing antidepressants to older people who are already obviously sick than to younger people who might simply be "moody" or who consume poor diets that alter their brain activity, another possible explanation for antidepressant overprescription among the elderly could be population reduction.

Another recent study out of Canada found that routine antidepressant use can be fatal, increasing the risk of premature death by as much as one-third, or 33 percent.

Compared to folks not taking these drugs, those on antidepressants also have a 14 percent increased risk of suffering a cardiovascular event like a stroke or a heart attack – which, considering the age and health status of people being prescribed the most antidepressants, suggests that these powerful brain-benders might be a "secret" weapon in stamping out the elderly before their time.

"We are very concerned by these results," stated lead author Paul Andrews from McMaster University near Toronto. "They suggest that we shouldn't be taking antidepressant drugs without understanding precisely how they interact with the body."

Earlier research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) further found that taking antidepressants can lead to suicide, as they block the brain's uptake of serotonin, also known as the "happiness" neurotransmitter.

Taking SSRIs long-term, the paper found, can lead to lasting disruptions in serotonin production, which in turn damages organs like the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, all of which rely upon proper levels of serotonin in order to function properly.

"I prescribe antidepressants even though I do not know if they are more harmful than helpful in the long-term," says Benoit Mulsan from the University of Toronto, one of the lead authors of this latter study. "I am worried that in some patients they could be, and psychiatrists in 50 years will wonder why we did not do more to find out."

For some helpful tips on how to address your depression symptoms naturally without the need for harmful and potentially fatal pharmaceutical drugs, be sure to check out

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