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New Studies Published on the Risks of Antidepressants

Chicago nursing home lawyers are concerned about the negative effects of antidepressants on nursing home residents. According to USA Today and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, two new studies were published on the negative effects of antidepressants. The first study focuses on the risks of antidepressant prescription. The second study is concerned with the affect on nursing home residents when their antidepressant prescription is changed.

The first study was done to address that fact that antidepressants are the most common prescription to treat dementia. Specifically, British researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College in London found that Zoloft (sertraine) and Remeron (mirtazapine), which are frequently prescribed for Alzheimer’s disease, are no more effective than a placebo. Placebos are sugar pills given in studies to test a drug’s effectiveness against the drug not being administered in the first place. In other words, the study found that the drugs are no more effective than taking a sugar pill that the patient believes could cure his or her disease. Furthermore, the study found that those patients who took the antidepressant prescriptions were more likely to experience adverse side effects. The researchers as well as Illinois medical malpractice attorneys ask that physicians to think of alternative treatments for dementia.

The second study was published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences. According to that study, researchers from a Harvard Medical School affiliate found that nursing home residents’ risk for falling increases five times in the two days immediately following a prescription or change in dosage of non-selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (non-SSRI) antidepressants. Examples of non-SSRI antidepressants include bupropion (Wellbutrin) and venlafaxine (Effexor). In light of this new information, the lead researcher and Chicago nursing home fall attorneys encourage nursing home facilitators and staff to protect their residents from this increased danger.

Both studies bring to light the risks of antidepressants to nursing home residents, but do not necessarily advocate for the prohibition of antidepressants. Instead, both studies are concerned with the increased risks of antidepressant prescription. When antidepressants are prescribed or dosages are changed, the prescriptions should be given on weekdays or times when staff can diligently watch residents for adverse side effects and prevent falls. Due to their age and frailty, even small adverse side effects and falls can result in an injury that causes pain for the rest of their life. This physical pain also translates into emotional and mental pain in the patient and even affects the patient’s family who can only helplessly watch their loved one.

Nursing home neglect and abuse lawyers at Levin and Perconti are focused on maintaining and improving the health and welfare of our elderly. They encourage families to discuss with their physician the medical benefits, risks, and alternatives of prescribing an antidepressant to their loved ones. Families and patients should be fully informed by the physicians before making decisions regarding the health and wellbeing of their family members and themselves. As for physicians, they should continue their education and stay in touch with the latest developments in medicine in order to better treat their patients and educate their families.