Depression in the Elderly and Psychiatric Drugs

by | May 21, 2013

Depression in elderly patients is commonly treated with the use of psychiatric drugs, especially when these seniors live in assisted living situations or nursing homes. The rate of depression, one might assume, would increase when the elderly are far from family and the comforts of their own home and community, no longer surrounded by those who love them. This does seem obvious, yet depression in the elderly is more often treated with pharmaceuticals than warmth and human kindness.
Shockingly, older adults who live in assisted living situations are up to 18 times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic drugs than those of middle age. Worse yet, up to 53% of the elderly is on one or even more psychotropic pharmaceuticals.
Once they move into such a facility, the drugging often happens quickly, within 2 weeks of their admission. One research conducted discovered 87% of patients with dementia were on a single psychotropic drug, up to 66% of the inhabitants were prescribed two, 36% were taking three of them, and 11% were actually on four or even more psychiatric drugs.
The dangerous side effects these drugs produce in the elderly is well known, which makes their common prescription even more loathsome. In fact, for those older than 70, the possibility of an adverse side effect goes up 3.5%. When additional drugs are added, the risk goes up alarmingly.
Side effects of the more commonly used antidepressants, also known as SSRIs, include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue and sleepiness
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Headaches

Additionally, the elderly are in danger of fractures, falling and bone loss. Since they are already susceptible to these problems, prescribing psychiatric drugs which cause tremors and dizziness seems nothing less than elder abuse.
A Dutch research study found that one third of participants who were on psychiatric drugs, 45% had fallen at least three times. Compare this to less than 22% of those who were not taking any psychiatric drug. And there were incidents of more multiple falls among those on antidepressants, antipsychotics and anxiety and insomnia drugs.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information states this obvious conclusion on depression in the elderly:
“The prevalence of depression in the nursing home population is very high. Whichever way defined, the prevalence rates found were three to four times higher than in the community-dwelling elderly. Age, pain, visual impairment, stroke, functional limitations, negative life events, loneliness, lack of social support and perceived inadequacy of care were found to be risk indicators for depression.”
One might assume that with these causes of elderly depression so clearly delineated, that the cure would be equally obvious. For instance, what might cure loneliness? The other reasons behind elderly depression have equally simple cures, none of which involve psychiatric drugging.
Why our elderly are drugged with psychiatric pharmaceuticals that at best hasten their demise is obvious.
The profit made by huge pharmaceutical companies with no interest in dignified aging is beyond deplorable. As human beings, we must take the care of our elderly back from the profit-motivated clutches of psychiatry and their hazardous drugs.


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