Adults with clinical depression are often prescribed antidepressants to help reduce persistent feelings of sadness or loss of interest that can manifest into severe emotional and physical conditions. However, older adults with other unrelated conditions may develop treatment-resistant depression that can make it difficult for doctors to pinpoint the cause of reoccurring symptoms. Unlike major depressive disorder, treatment-resistant depression refers to patients who do not respond to at least six weeks of treatment using anti-depressive medications. Patients who have treatment-resistant depression have increased symptoms of depression that can interfere with school, work and other social functioning. Along with increased depression symptoms, patients are a greater risk for hospitalizations, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicide due to the stress caused by this condition.
Older adults who are unresponsive to depression treatments can manage symptoms by combining two antidepressant medications according to a large clinical trial conducted by Washington University School of Medicine and other institutions. This new research indicates that older patients who are unresponsive to antidepressants may be treated with supplemental medications like Abilify to help manage depression symptoms.
Abilify Treats Depression in Seniors
During clinical trials, adults over the age of 60 with clinical depression were given extended release antidepressant drug venlafaxine for 12 weeks. After the 12 weeks, roughly half of the patients who were given venlafaxine still experienced significant clinical depression symptoms. According to researchers, the reaction to such treatments is based on age-related changes in the brain and body that can impact how patients react to the drug compound.
During the second phase of the trial, patients who were unresponsive to venlafaxine were given a supplemental drug, aripiprazole or Abilify, which is prescribed to treat schizophrenia and manic episodes. The results of the trial showed that about 44% of patients who took the drug combination, venlafaxine and Abilify, showed a significant improvement in remission of treatment-resistant depression when compared to patients who received the placebo. Among some of the side effects patients experienced while taking venlafaxine and Abilify included restlessness, stiffness and an increase in blood sugar levels.
The results of the study are important to the aging population because the effects of treatment-resistant depression have higher rates of suicide and are at significant risk for developing dementia. This new research is important to aging patients and the medical community as it will help future clinical trials identifying how certain age groups respond to different to medication treatments.
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