Elderly people are just as likely, if not more likely, to experience depression. Fortunately, elderly people tend to respond just as well to antidepressants as younger people. That said, finding the best antidepressant for elderly people is important.
Deciding on the best antidepressant will, ultimately, be up to the individual. However, certain drugs provide a better balance of tolerability, efficacy, and side effects. This article explains how to find the best antidepressant for elderly patients.
Using Antidepressants for Elderly Patients
The use of antidepressants, especially in elderly patients, was somewhat controversial up until the 90s. Before then, the most common antidepressants were MAOIs and tricyclics. These drugs caused too many side effects to be widely used.
However, nowadays doctors have access to new types of antidepressants. The most common present-day antidepressants are SSRIs. These drugs affect serotonin, one of the many chemicals in our brain. Serotonin works specifically on regulating our mood.
SSRIs are not side-effect free. However, most people find that they are more tolerable than MAOIs or tricyclics.
How Antidepressants Affect the Elderly
Antidepressants affect the elderly in largely the same way that they would affect any other population.
Studies have shown that SSRIs are more effective at treating antidepressants than tricyclics. Study subjects improved 75% of the time when using tricyclics compared to 83% of the time when taking SSRIs.
Tricyclics, however, often cause more withdrawal symptoms than SSRIs.
It’s important to note that elderly people often respond slower to antidepressants than younger groups. In some cases it takes up to 12 weeks before effects are pronounced.
Elderly patients may also be more prone to certain side effects such as falling. Depression related to dementia may not be treatable with common antidepressants.
So What Is the Best Antidepressant for Elderly People?
Deciding on the best antidepressant depends on the person. Some antidepressants are more stimulating whereas others are more relaxing. You’ll need to discuss the best options with your doctor.
- SSRIs. As mentioned, SSRIs are the most popular antidepressants. They are least likely to cause serious side effects and are generally very effective. SSRIs may be stimulating or relaxing depending on the brand.
- SNRIs. These drugs work similar to SNRIs but also affect our adrenaline levels. As such they may be more stimulating.
- MAOIs. MAOIs interact often with other medications and supplements. Your doctor may avoid them if you are prescribed other medications.
- Tricyclics. Tricyclic antidepressants are often very effective. However, they have a higher side effect profile compared to other medications. Your doctor may recommend them if other medications don’t seem to work.
The best option is to explain your symptoms and situation to your doctor. They will help you decide on the best medication.
There are many different antidepressants out there. Seniors respond differently to antidepressants and have different needs, so it’s important to choose the proper medication.
If you are struggling with another mental health disorder like dementia or schizophrenia, you might want to consider choosing between antidepressants and antipsychotics.
Or, if you’re also struggling with fatigue, consider figuring out how to choose the most energizing antidepressant.