Newer drugs for depression may increase death risk

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In a recent study, researchers found an increased death risk in adults with depression who used newer antipsychotic medications.

The research was conducted by a team at Rutgers and elsewhere.

Although antidepressants are the first-line treatment for depression, many people do not respond to the first course of treatment.

Subsequent treatment options include switching to a second antidepressant or newer antipsychotics, such as aripiprazole, quetiapine and olanzapine.

Antipsychotics have often serious adverse effects, including a more than 50% increased mortality risk in older adults with dementia.

In the study, the team examined whether this mortality risk applies to non-elderly adults using newer antipsychotics.

They looked at data of 39,582 Medicaid beneficiaries ages 25 to 64 from 2001 to 2010.

After a period of treatment with a single antidepressant, study patients switched to a newer antipsychotic or with a second antidepressant.

The researchers found a 45% higher death risk for those initiating a newer antipsychotic.

They suggest that doctors should consider prescribing antipsychotics to adults with depression carefully, as the potential health risks are substantial and the benefits are quite modest and controversially debated.

The results emphasize the importance of considering newer antipsychotics only after non-response to less risky, evidence-based treatment options have been established.

The study is published in PLOS ONE. One author of the study is Tobias Gerhar.

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