Overprescribing of antidepressants may occur more often in elderly patients

In a Pharmacology Research & Perspectives study of individuals living in Olmsted County, Minnesota from 2005–2012, potential overprescribing of antidepressant medications occurred in nearly one-quarter of elderly residents.

Potential antidepressant overprescribing was most likely in individuals residing in nursing homes; patients having a higher number of comorbid medical conditions; individuals who were outpatients; those taking more concomitant medications; those having greater use of acute care services; and those receiving prescriptions via telephone, e-mail, or patient portal.

"Our results, in agreement with others, suggest that the potential overprescribing of antidepressants may occur more often in elderly people who have a higher degree of clinical complexity or severity," said lead author Dr. William Bobo, of the Mayo Clinic, in Jacksonville, Florida. "This is important to consider because these individuals may be at especially high risk for clinically significant depression, and clinicians may be left with relatively little time to discuss the individual concerns that may prompt the issuing of an antidepressant prescription. This is something that we would like to look into in future studies.

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