Second medication may treat depression better in older people

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Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities that one used to enjoy.

It affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.

Symptoms of depression may include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, or emptiness, loss of interest in activities, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, fatigue, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

A new study at the University of Arizona has found that adding an antipsychotic drug to an antidepressant is more effective than switching to a different antidepressant for older adults with treatment-resistant depression.

The drug, aripiprazole, was originally approved by the FDA in 2002 to treat schizophrenia, but lower doses have been used as an add-on treatment for clinical depression in younger patients who do not respond to antidepressants alone.

The researchers examined strategies commonly used in clinical practice to help alleviate treatment-resistant depression in older patients.

They tested 742 people, ages 60 and older, with treatment-resistant depression, meaning their depression had not responded to at least two different antidepressant medications.

The participants received biweekly phone calls or in-person visits with study clinicians and the medications were adjusted according to their response and side effects.

The researchers found that adding aripiprazole to the original antidepressant led to the best overall outcomes.

The group that experienced the best results was the one in which patients continued with their original antidepressants but added aripiprazole.

However, even the best treatment strategy only helped about 30% of people in the study with treatment-resistant depression, highlighting the need to find and develop more effective treatments.

Treatment-resistant depression is no more or less common in older people than younger people, but because it seems to accelerate cognitive decline, identifying more effective ways to treat it is essential.

The team says that any given treatment is likely to help only a subset of people, and ideally, researchers would like to know in advance who is most likely to be helped, but we still don’t know how to determine that.

Overall, antidepressants are highly helpful for the majority of people suffering from clinical depression.

At least half of all people with depression feel much better after they begin taking the first medication they try.

However, almost half of the remainder not helped by a first drug improve when switched to a second drug. But that leaves a sizable group with clinical depression that does not respond to two treatments.

Depression and anxiety in older adults may accelerate cognitive decline, so finding more effective treatment strategies is urgent.

Because depression and anxiety in older adults may accelerate cognitive decline, finding more effective treatment strategies is critical.

The problem is particularly challenging in older adults, many of whom already take several medications for other conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiac issues, or diabetes.

Switching to new antidepressants or adding other psychiatric drugs can be complicated.

Depression can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, life events, and chemical imbalances in the brain.

It is a common and treatable condition, and a combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes can be effective in managing symptoms.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression, it is essential to seek help from a healthcare professional. Depression can be a serious condition that requires professional treatment and support.

If you care about depression, please read studies about the key to depression recovery, and this stuff in your diet may cause depression.

For more information about mental health, please read studies that ultra-processed foods may make you feel depressed, and Vitamin D could help reduce depression symptoms.

The study was conducted by Jordan F. Karp et al and published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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