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Child Psychiatrist /Adult Psychiatrist

Antidepressants and Dementia Risk: New Data


Taking antidepressants in midlife was not associated with an increased risk of subsequent Alzheimer's disease (AD) or AD-related dementias (ADRD), data from a large prospective study of US veterans show.



  • Investigators analyzed data from 35,200 US veterans aged ≥ 55 years diagnosed with major depressive disorder from January 1, 2000, to June 1, 2022, and followed them for ≤ 20 years to track subsequent AD/ADRD diagnoses.

  • Health information was pulled from electronic health records of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Corporate Data Warehouse, and veterans had to be at the VHA for ≥ 1 year before diagnosis.

  • Participants were considered to be exposed to an antidepressant when a prescription lasted ≥ 3 months.


  • A total of 32,500 individuals were diagnosed with MDD. The mean age was 65 years, and 91% were men. 17,000 patients received antidepressants for a median duration of 4 years. Median follow-up time was 3.2 years.

  • There was no significant association between antidepressant exposure and the risk for AD/ADRD (events = 1056; hazard ratio, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.80-1.08) vs no exposure.

  • In a subgroup analysis, investigators found no significant link between different classes of antidepressants and dementia risk. These included selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors, and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.

  • Investigators emphasized the need for further research, particularly in populations with a larger representation of female patients.


"A possibility for the conflicting results in retrospective studies is that the heightened risk identified in participants on antidepressants may be attributed to depression itself, rather than the result of a potential pharmacological action. So, this and other clinical confounding factors need to be taken into account," the investigators noted.


The study was led by Jaime Ramos-Cejudo, PhD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston. It was published online May 8 in Alzheimer's & Dementia.


The cohort's relatively young age limited the number of dementia cases captured. Data from supplemental insurance, including Medicare, were not included, potentially limiting outcome capture.


The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Note: This article originally appeared on Medscape

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