The use of antidepressants may increase an elderly person’s risk of suffering a hip fracture, according to the findings of new research.
In a Swedish study published this month in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry, researchers concluded that individuals over the age of 65 who take a certain type of antidepressant, known as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), face double the risk of suffering a hip fracture.
Researchers studied more than 204,000 people in the Prescribed Drugs Register of Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare, each of which were over the age of 65 and had a prescription for antidepressants filled between July 1, 2006, and December 31, 2011.
They were matched by birth year and sex to another control participant who was not prescribed antidepressants. In all, the study included more than 400,000 people over the age of 65. Data was collected for one year before the initial prescription was given and one year after the initial prescription was given.
Researchers noted that treatment with antidepressants was associated with increased risk of hip fracture. Antidepressant users had double the risk of hip fractures compared to those who didn’t use antidepressant drugs. However, the study didn’t prove a cause and effect. Instead it merely showed a link between the two.
This is an association that has been found in prior studies. A 2017 study indicated elderly patients had a 60% increased risk of hip fracture after taking an SSRI.
Researchers speculate that the risk may be elevated simply because an elderly person taking medication has a heightened chance of suffering a fall.
For most adults the side effects of untreated depression outweighs the added risk of sustaining a bone fracture, the authors note. Thus, they recommend doctors weigh the risk and benefits before prescribing antidepressants to patients. Doctors should also carefully monitor older patients taking SSRIs to prevent falls and fracture risk and put into place a solid fall prevention plan, the researchers warned.