#Head injury risk climbs with antidepressant use in Alzheimer’s disease

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Community-dwelling people with Alzheimer's disease are at higher risk of head injury if using antidepressants.

The risk of head injuries and traumatic brain injuries is higher in people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) who take antidepressants, researchers have determined.

Antidepressant use has previously been linked with an increased risk of falls and hip fractures. The new study from the University of Eastern Finland , the results of which were published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy , was the first to look at the risk of head injuries.

By comparing new antidepressant users with matched non-users, the researchers found that the risk of head injuries peaked during the first 30 days of use, but remained at an elevated level for over two years of use. Antidepressant use was also consistently associated with a higher risk of head injuries when the authors looked at case-crossover analyses.

“Our findings give cause for concern because persons with Alzheimer’s disease frequently use antidepressants, which have been considered a safer alternative to, for example, benzodiazepines,” said Heidi Taipale, senior researcher. Taipale added that while the study population consisted of persons diagnosed with AD, it is likely that the risk is similar also in other older persons without AD.

The authors concluded that antidepressant use should be carefully considered in patients with Alzheimer’s and the association confirmed in future studies.

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