Antidepressant Use in the Elderly Is Associated With an Increased Risk of Dementia

Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. Apr-Jun 2016;30(2):99-104. doi: 10.1097/WAD.0000000000000103.


A retrospective cohort study was conducted including 3688 patients age 60 years or older without dementia enrolled in a depression screening study in primary care clinics. Information on antidepressant use and incident dementia during follow-up was retrieved from electronic medical records. The Cox proportional hazard models were used to compare the risk for incident dementia among 5 participant groups: selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI) only, non-SSRI only (non-SSRI), mixed group of SSRI and non-SSRI, not on antidepressants but depressed, and not on antidepressants and not depressed. SSRI and non-SSRI users had significantly higher dementia risk than the nondepressed nonusers (hazard ratio [HR]=1.83, P=0.0025 for SSRI users and HR=1.50, P=0.004 for non-SSRI users). In addition, SSRIs users had significantly higher dementia risk than non-users with severe depression (HR=2.26, P=0.0005). Future research is needed to confirm our results in other populations and to explore potential mechanism underlying the observed association.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors