Cymbalta improves cognitive function in elderly patients with depression

Elderly patients with depression treated with Cymbalta (duloxetine hydrochloride), 60 mg once daily, had twice as much improvement in verbal learning and recalling information than those given a sugar pill, according to new research presented Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry.

By the end of the eight-week study, Cymbalta-treated patients demonstrated significantly greater improvement in cognition when compared to patients treated with a sugar pill (mean change 1.95 vs. .76). Additionally, 27.4 percent of Cymbalta-treated patients were virtually free of their depressive symptoms, a rate nearly double that seen with a sugar pill (14.7 percent). Significant improvements in depressive symptoms in Cymbalta-treated patients were also seen as early as one week.

Impairment of cognitive functioning is a bigger issue among the elderly with depression than younger adults, one analysis suggests. It is not uncommon for these patients to have short-term memory issues, like forgetting where they placed their keys, or to experience a delay in recalling information.

"Treating and diagnosing depression in elderly patients can be complicated -- their condition presents differently from younger patients, making it more difficult to diagnose, and their response to medication is less predictable," stated Alan Siegal, MD, associate clinical professor of psychiatry, Yale University. "Depression-related cognitive impairment, along with a greater sensitivity to medication side effects, often make it more difficult for older patients to comply with treatment recommendations."

Depression is a common illness among the aging, affecting two million Americans aged 65 and older. Often minimized by the patient and their doctor,(iv,v) undiagnosed and untreated elderly depression leads to unnecessary pain and suffering and increased healthcare costs. The elderly are predisposed to this condition for many reasons, including failing health, loss of loved ones and frustration with memory loss.

"Previous clinical trials using other antidepressants in this patient population showed cognitive dysfunction persisted even after the depression had responded to treatment," explained Joel Raskin, MD, FRCPC, medical advisor, Eli Lilly and Company. "In this study, significant improvements in both cognition and depression were seen."


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