A U.K. study that showed people who use some types of antidepressants for the long-term may have an increased risk for dementia, but patients with concerns should continue taking their medications until further discussion with their own doctors.
Before arriving to this conclusion, the researchers at The University of East Anglia in the U.K. looked at over 40,000 patients aged 65 and older with dementia, and compared them to records of more than 283,000 people with no illness. In addition to that, they also studied 27 million medications to corroborate their hypotheses that some anticholinergic drugs were connected to higher incidence of dementia, USA Today reports.
In a statement, lead researcher at The University of East Anglia’s School of Health Sciences Dr. George Savva said,
We found that people who had been diagnosed with dementia were up to 30% more likely to have been prescribed specific classes of anticholinergic medications. And the association with dementia increases with greater exposure to these types of medication.
Anticholinergic drugs are usually used to aid in the medication of people who suffer from depression and other ailments, such as bladder conditions or Parkinson’s disease. However, when the researchers analyzed similar medications used to treat conditions such as hay fever and stomach cramps, they found no link to dementia.
Dr. Doug Brown, Chief Policy and Research Officer at the Alzheimer’s Society, added his sentiments, “Current guidelines for doctors say that anticholinergic drugs should be avoided for frail older people because of their impact on memory and thinking, but doctors should consider these new findings for all over-65s as long-term use could raise the risk of dementia.”
The U.K. study about the link between antidepressants and dementia was published in the Thursday issue of the British Medical Journal and funded by the Alzheimer’s Society, a U.K. charity for people with dementia.