Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stanford researchers test drug to fight depression faster in elderly

17.10.2002


Elderly people who suffer from depression can take the edge off faster by using a drug called mirtazapine, which appears to work more quickly compared to rival drugs. These results come from a study by researchers at Stanford University Medical Center who compared two drugs in an eight-week trial. Although both drugs treated the depression, mirtazapine began working sooner and eased the patient’s anxiety - a common effect of depression in elderly people.



"There’s a sense that we need something else for elderly patients and here is an alternative that is well tolerated," said Alan Schatzberg, MD, the Kenneth T. Norris, Jr. Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. "It gives doctors an alternative."

Anti-depression drugs come in two common varieties. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as the popular Zoloft and Prozac, cause the brain chemical serotonin to linger in the gaps between neurons. These drugs are extremely effective but can interact with other drugs such as beta-blockers, which many elderly people take to quell heart problems.


The alternative to SSRIs - tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) - can have side effects that make them less appealing. However, mirtazapine, a non-tricyclic that works similarly to TCA’s, has few side effects or drug interactions. "Mirtazapine has TCA-like properties without the side effects," Schatzberg said. "A lot of people use it where they might have used a TCA, particularly in the elderly." Mirtazapine enhances the effects of serotonin and other brain chemicals and also acts as a mild sedative.

Schatzberg tested mirtazapine’s effectiveness against paroxetine (sold under the name Paxil), a popular SSRI. In his trial, 255 depressed people 65 or older were randomly divided into groups taking either mirtazapine or paroxetine. Psychiatrists analyzed the patients’ depression throughout an eight-week test period.

Although the drugs were equally effective by the end of the eight-week period, depression in patients on mirtazapine had eased significantly by day 14 compared with people taking paroxetine. Those patients also had less anxiety and an easier time sleeping. In addition, those who took mirtazapine had fewer side effects such as nausea, tremors or flatulence - side effects that caused 26 percent of those taking paroxetine to discontinue the trial compared with 15 percent of those on mirtazapine. During an extended eight-week phase after the initial trial, the two drugs remained equally effective.

Schatzberg said mirtazapine is also effective more quickly than SSRIs in younger people; however younger people are less likely to stay on the drug because it can cause some weight gain and grogginess. "Weight gain is a problem for younger patients," Schatzberg said. "There’s less initiative to use the drug in these people."

These side effects that drive younger patients away can be a boon to the elderly who are less concerned about their weight but who suffer from anxiety and insomnia. "Depressed people who are older often have agitation," Schatzberg said. "Mirtazapine calmed these patients and helped them sleep, especially early on."

Schatzberg said that many doctors already use mirtazapine to treat depression in their elderly patients in order to avoid the drug interactions that are common with SSRIs. "But it certainly hasn’t saturated the market in the elderly," he noted.


Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. For more information, please visit the Web site of the medical center’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs at http://mednews.stanford.edu.

Amy Adams | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://mednews.stanford.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Electrical 'switch' in brain's capillary network monitors activity and controls blood flow
27.03.2017 | Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont

nachricht Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm
24.03.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>