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Safety Of Antidepressants In The Elderly

B. Sommer, H. Fenn, P. Pompei, C. Debattista, A. Lembke, Po W. Wang, Ben Flores
Published 2003 · Medicine

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Until the 1980s, the two major classes of antidepressants, the tricyclics and the monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), were effective but had severe side effects, requiring monitoring by psychiatrists. The past several years have brought new classes of antidepressants that are safer for the patient to take and far easier for the non-psychiatrist to prescribe. Whilst this is of enormous value, it leaves the physician with the dilemma of which one to prescribe. These new antidepressants cannot safely be used interchangeably. This paper will discuss each of the antidepressants presently available, with particular emphasis on safety in the elderly. Drug interactions, side effects and particular challenges to the older patient will be described. The authors will then advise a general strategy for prescribing antidepressants.
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