Antidepressant Use Partially Mediates the Association Between Depression and Risk of Falls and Fall Injuries Among Older Adults.

TitleAntidepressant Use Partially Mediates the Association Between Depression and Risk of Falls and Fall Injuries Among Older Adults.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsLohman, MC, Fairchild, AJ, Merchant, AT
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series A
ISSN Number1758-535X
KeywordsCausal mediation analysis, Epidemiology, falls and mobility problems

BACKGROUND: The association between depression and fall risk in older adults is recognized, yet the mechanisms underlying this association are unclear. This study estimated the mediating role of antidepressant use in the association between depression and falls and fall injuries.

METHODS: Longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS; 2004-2006) were linked with medication data from the Prescription Drug Study (PDS; 2005). The sample included community-dwelling adults age ≥ 65 with data on depression and medication use (n=3,565). Depression was measured using two independent survey tools: Composite International Diagnostic Interview for depression short form and an 8-item version of the Centers for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale. We used causal mediation analysis to estimate and compare the direct and indirect (mediated by antidepressant use) effects of depression on falls and fall injuries.

RESULTS: Individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) were significantly more likely to experience a fall (OR: 1.92; 95% CI: 1.41, 2.62) and a fall injury (OR: 1.67; 95% CI: 1.09, 2.55) over two years. Indirect effect estimates showed that antidepressant medication use accounted for approximately 19% and 18% of the association between MDD and falls and fall injuries, respectively. Results were similar when using an alternative depression measure and when considering only selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants.

CONCLUSION: Antidepressant use explains a significant proportion, but not a majority, of the association between depression and greater fall risk. Treatment benefits of antidepressants should be considered with, and may outweigh, concerns about increased risk of falls associated with antidepressant use.

Citation Key11120
PubMed ID33017840