What is Dementia? It is a neurological disorder that robs people of their memory, ability to make decisions and solve everyday problems, costing the world $1.3 trillion a year.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is a progressive condition resulting as a result of a stroke, brain injury or Alzheimer’s disease. The WHO has confirmed that the number of sufferers is likely to go up to 78 million by 2030, and 139 million by 2050.
Dementia is common among people between the age of 65 to 90 years, and some of them may go into depression. However, there is little to no evidence that antidepressant medicines could help such patients.
A recent study conducted by the University of Plymouth, England has revealed that antidepressants consumed for agitation have no effects on people suffering from dementia.
Agitation – inappropriate verbal, vocal, or motor activity – is a common symptom of dementia. Shedding light on the effectiveness of the drugs, the study says that antidepressants are taken to overcome agitation and have the same level of effectiveness as that of a placebo.
The antidepressant mirtazapine, prescribed by doctors worldwide to treat dementia, has no effect on such patients at all. The drug, in fact, increases the risk of mortality in the patients consuming it. Similarly, Antipsychotics increases death rates in those with dementia.
The University of Plymouth study recruited 204 persons with Alzheimer’s disease from across the United Kingdom and gave half to mirtazapine and half to placebo.
The results later showed that there was no less agitation after 12 weeks in the mirtazapine group than in the placebo group. There were more deaths in the mirtazapine group, at least seven, by week 16. The placebo group had only one death. The study, thus suggests that antidepressants are not helping dementia patients.
The lead researcher and the Dean University of Plymouth Professor Sube Banerjee says, “This study has added important information to the evidence base, and we look forward to investigating further treatments that may help to improve people’s quality of life.”