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Study: Common medication treatments for PTSD can increase the risk of developing dementia


Drugs for PTSD linked to increased risk of demen­tia (The Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Jour­nal):

Cer­tain psy­chotrop­ic drugs used to treat post-trau­mat­ic stress dis­or­der (PTSD) increase the risk of devel­op­ing demen­tia, includ­ing in patients who do not have PTSD but take the drugs for oth­er con­di­tions, study results pub­lished in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Geri­atrics Soci­ety

As expect­ed, a diag­no­sis of PTSD was found to sig­nif­i­cant­ly increase the risk of a demen­tia diagnosis…the results show that the use of selec­tive sero­tonin reup­take inhibitors, nov­el anti­de­pres­sants and atyp­i­cal antipsy­chotics increased that risk of demen­tia still fur­ther… Vet­er­ans who did not have PTSD and took the drugs also had an increased risk of demen­tia.

While the use of sero­tonin-nor­ep­i­neph­rine reup­take inhibitors (SNRI) or ben­zo­di­azepines (BZA) to treat PTSD was not found to sig­nif­i­cant­ly increase the risk of demen­tia specif­i­cal­ly in patients with PTSD, the results showed that use of either drug was found to be inde­pen­dent­ly asso­ci­at­ed with an increased risk of demen­tia diag­no­sis in the vet­er­ans, regard­less of PTSD diag­no­sis.”

The Study

PTSD, Psy­chotrop­ic Med­ica­tion Use, and the Risk of Demen­tia Among US Vet­er­ans: A Ret­ro­spec­tive Cohort Study (Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Geri­atrics Soci­ety). From the abstract:

  • Objec­tive: To deter­mine the asso­ci­a­tions between PTSD, psy­chotrop­ic med­ica­tion use, and the risk for demen­tia.
  • Results: PTSD diag­no­sis sig­nif­i­cant­ly increased the risk for demen­tia diag­no­sis (HR = 1.35; [95% CI = 1.27–1.43]). How­ev­er, there were sig­nif­i­cant inter­ac­tions between PTSD diag­no­sis and use of SSRIs (P < .001), NAs (P = .014), and AAs (P < .001) on the risk for demen­tia diag­no­sis. HR for demen­tia diag­no­sis among vet­er­ans diag­nosed with PTSD and not using psy­chotrop­ic med­ica­tions was 1.55 [1.45–1.67]. Among vet­er­ans diag­nosed with PTSD pre­scribed SSRI, SNRI, or AA, HR for demen­tia diag­no­sis var­ied by drug class use rang­ing from 1.99 for SSRI to 4.21 for AA, rel­a­tive to vet­er­ans with­out a PTSD diag­no­sis and no psy­chotrop­ic med­ica­tion receipt. BZAs or SNRIs use at base­line was asso­ci­at­ed with a sig­nif­i­cant­ly increased risk for demen­tia diag­no­sis inde­pen­dent of a PTSD diag­no­sis.
  • Con­clu­sion: PTSD diag­no­sis is asso­ci­at­ed with an increased risk for demen­tia diag­no­sis that var­ied with receipt of psy­chotrop­ic med­ica­tions. Fur­ther research would help to delin­eate if these find­ings are due to dif­fer­ences in PTSD sever­i­ty, psy­chi­atric comor­bid­i­ty, or inde­pen­dent effects of psy­chotrop­ic med­ica­tions on cog­ni­tive decline.

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