Antidepressants greater risk to Falls
Falls are a major problem for older adults, causing injury, disability and, in serious cases, death. Poor muscle strength, thinning bones, certain medical conditions, medications, and a variety of other factors may contribute to greater risk. Now a study presenting updated research on medication use and the risk of falls finds that people taking antidepressants are more likely to experience falls. Taking benzodiazepines for mood disorders or sedatives and hypnotics for sleep problems were also associated with greater risk.
The researchers couldn’t determine whether the medications themselves, the medical conditions these drugs treat, or some other factor was to blame. But drowsiness and/or dizziness are common side effects of using antidepressants and benzodiazepines.
In the study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers looked at fall occurrences among 79,000 participants age 60 and older and the use of medications in nine unique drug classes (including high blood pressure medications, other heart drugs, antipsychotics, narcotics, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
More research using larger samples of patients needs to be done before firm conclusions can be made. In the meantime, the study authors suggest doctors use caution when prescribing these medications to seniors.
If you’re taking medication for depression treatment or for a mood disorder, talk to your doctor about the potential side effects, including the risk of falls. Also follow these general tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on preventing fall injuries.
Exercise regularly; exercise programs like Tai Chi that increase strength and improve balance are especially good.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review all of your medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to reduce side effects and interactions.
Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year to manage vision problems.
Improve the lighting in your home.
Reduce hazards in your home that can lead to falls. Remove loose rugs and items blocking entrances and hallways; fasten electric cords to the wall; and consider mounting grab bars near tubs and showers.