When ageing meets the blues: Are current antidepressants effective in depressed aged patients?

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2015 Aug;55:478-97. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.06.005. Epub 2015 Jun 6.


"I had to wait 110 years to become famous. I wanted to enjoy it as long as possible.", Jeanne Louise Calment (1875-1997). This review summarizes current knowledge of the effects of antidepressant drugs in elderly patients (double-blind placebo (n=27) or active comparator-controlled clinical trials (n=21) indexed in Pubmed in depressed patients aged ≥60) and in aged mice (≥9 months) and middle-aged rats (≥14 months) on depression-related symptoms and cognitive performances. Finally, other potential therapeutic targets for treating depression-related disorders in elderly patients are also addressed (neurogenesis, GABAB receptor, 5-HT4 receptor, mTOR signaling). Overall, the very few published preclinical studies (n=12 in total) in middle-aged and aged rodents seem to suggest that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be less effective than tricyclic antidepressant drugs (TCAs) in ameliorating depression-like behavior and cognitive functions. On the other hand, results from clinical trials suggest that there is not a marked difference in efficacy and safety profiles of current marketed classes of antidepressant drugs.

Keywords: Aging; Cognition; Human; Major depressive disorders; Neurogenesis; Rodent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurogenesis / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents