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 World first: Massive thrombosis removed during early pregnancy
20.07.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern

nachricht Therapy of preterm birth in sight?
19.07.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern

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: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>