than 35 million people affected
worldwide, the global burden that dementia imposes amounts to 1% of global gross domestic product every year. Dementia has a devastating effect on those affected and their families.
Depression is one of the commonest conditions associated with dementia - 20% of
people with dementia suffer depression. The class of drugs called
antidepressants is widely prescribed for the ailment. The fact that this
treatment is not proven scientifically is a source of great distress.
and safety of two of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants namely
sertraline and mirtazapine in dementia patients were assessed in a recent study
in England. 326 elderly patients were involved in the programme. The results
were negative and the study stresses on second thoughts before prescribing
antidepressants for depression in dementia.
with these drugs was found to be no better than placebo. The side effects add
to the dilemma. While sertraline was notorious for causing nausea, drowsiness
and sedation were the most common side effects produced by mirtazapine.
The research suggests that clinicians should
reconsider the use of these agents in dementia.
Even three months of drug usage did not bring any significant
reduction in depression. A number of treatment-associated adverse events were
study which is perhaps the largest trial of its kind is not devoid of flaws,
but it is claimed to the most reliable one till date.
or mirtazapine for depression in dementia (HTA-SADD): a randomised,
multicentre, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial; Sube Banerjee et al; The