Risk profile of SSrIs in elderly depressive patients with co-morbid physical illness

Pharmacopsychiatry. 2001 May;34(3):114-8. doi: 10.1055/s-2001-14281.


Background: So far, most studies on treatment strategies in elderly depressive patients have included only patients in good physical health, thereby excluding and neglecting somatic co-morbidity, which is very prevalent and relevant in geriatric psychiatry.

Method: 40 elderly depressive inpatients at the Department of Internal Medicine in Hochzirl who had started on SSRI monotherapy were allocated to this prospective post-marketing surveillance study. A stable medication for their physical illness for at least six months was a prerequisite. A Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE) score of >24 was required for study entry. The four-week study consisted of one baseline and four follow-up examinations, including psychiatric and medical history, as well as ratings for psychopathology and treatment-related adverse events. The antidepressants administered were paroxetine (20 mg/d), citalopram (20 mg/d), fluoxetine (20 mg/d) and sertraline (50 mg/d). Depression was rated using the 21-item Hamilton Depression Scale (HAMD); side effects were evaluated by the UKU Side Effect Rating Scale, and we used the Hillside Akathisia Scale (HAS) to record the incidence of SSRI-induced akathisia.

Results and conclusion: Our results suggest that SSRls are effective and reasonably safe in elderly depressive patients with co-morbid physical illness. Adverse effects are more common, but generally tolerable, than in younger and physically healthy patients. The risk profile of SSRls in this population can be considered favorable.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / complications*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Product Surveillance, Postmarketing
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors