“Old” news in depression

depressionFine wine, record players and Tom Brokaw. All wonderful old things! But older isn’t always better – except, sometimes, it is. At least, researchers think it is. That’s the take-home message from a round-up of new research into all-things depression this week.

A report on mental health trends in Health Affairs found that senior citizens are using psychiatric drugs twice as often as they were 10 years ago. Around 16 percent of Americans over 65 have been diagnosed with a mental illness and 15 percent overall are taking antidepressants or anti-psychotics. The report doesn’t suggest that older people are suffering from mental illness more often. Instead, researchers think that the elderly often went undiagnosed in years past.

At least they’ve got a slew of drug options, thanks to the meds that all those crazy kids in them laboratories have been coming up with! Dozens of anti-depressants are on the market, but a systematic review by The Cochrane Institute found that if it aint broke, you shouldn’t try to fix it: older medications were more effective than the new releases. Zoloft, which has been available for acute depression since 1991, was the best of 12 meds, based on data from 10,000 patients.

…That assumes those patients weren’t “cherry picked,” making their results inapplicable to the general population. That’s the claim of a report led by the University of Pittsburg Graduate School of Public Health, in the May issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. According to their research, only 22% of patients taking a particular anti-depressant met critera to participate in phase III FDA approval trials. That raises concerns that traditional FDA efficacy studies may not be applicable to the general population of anti-depressant users.

Seniors are more depressed, new medication isn’t getting us anywhere and results from studies on anti-depressant medication is tainted? I feel a few grey hairs coming on…

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