New study hopes to aid older adults suffering from depression

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A recent study found that adding a medication, rather than switching medications, may help older adults with treatment-resistant depression. Dr. Jordan F. Karp from Banner University Medical Center & Group is joined Ted to discuss the findings of the study.

“Clinicians struggle in the clinic when we’re treating older adults with antidepressants and they’re not getting better, with the question should we switch to another medicine or should we add something on, so should we augment another antidepressant,” said Karp. “That’s really what this study was testing.”

Antidepressants can be less effective in older adults due to physiological and brain changes. The study found that adding the medication Aripiprazole or Wellbutrin (which is also called Bupropion) to the antidepressant already being taken by older patients improved participant well-being and resulted in higher depression remission rates.

“We found that augmentation with Aripiprazole was actually better than switching to Bupropion, and it was safer than augmentation with the other drug, with Wellbutrin,” said Karp. “There were fewer side effects and fewer risk of falls, with we know are a risk for older adults.”

The study found that, with the combination of the two medications, one in three older adults experienced a fall. Comparatively, with the use of a singular antidepressant, that number was one in two.

Thirty percent of patients were helped in the study. While this is not a majority, Karp says he and his team are delighted with the results.

“These people had been tried on and not responded to on average about two and a half different antidepressants, so the fact that we could get 30% of these people well with a drug that was tolerable is certainly, it’s promising,” said Karp.

Karp added that he feels that newer, better medications need to be created to help the 70% of patients that did not see results from the combination.

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