Family Medicine

In a large UK population-based study, Ian Wong and colleagues at the University of Hong Kong and University College London, UK, found no statistically significant association between the antidepressant trazodone and a reduced risk of dementia when compared to other antidepressants. Their findings were published this week in PLOS Medicine.

Health Improvement

In vitro and animal studies have previously suggested that trazodone may protect against dementia. In the new study, researchers analyzed data from the Health Improvement Network (THIN), which includes medical records of over 15 million primary care patients in the UK. They identified 4,716 people over the age of 50 years who received at least two consecutive trazodone prescriptions between 2000 and 2017; and compared them with 420,280 users of other antidepressants with similar baseline characteristics.
The median time to dementia diagnosis for trazodone users was 1.8 years. The incidence of dementia among trazodone users was higher than in matched antidepressant users (1.8 vs 1.1 dementia cases per 100 person-years) with a hazard ratio of 1.80 (95% confidence interval 1.56-2.09, P < 0.001). However, the results do not point toward a causal association; the study is limited by the fact that people in the prodromal stage of dementia might be preferentially prescribed trazodone.

Stage of dementia

“These results refute the suggestions from animal studies that trazodone might stop or delay the onset of dementia in patients at the prodromal stage of dementia;” the authors say. Researchers at University College London and the University of Hong Kong found that the antidepressant was not significantly statistically associated with a reduced risk of dementia in comparison to other antidepressants.

The team of researchers analysed data from the Health Improvement Network (THIN). This network hold records of over 15 million primary care patients in the UK; identifying 4,716 people over the age of 50 who received a minimum of two consecutive trazodone prescriptions between 2000 and 2017. These patients are compare with 420,280 users of other antidepressants with similar baseline characteristics.

Side effects

Trazodone is an antidepressant drug that works to balance chemicals in the brain; and is use to treat depression; anxiety, or a combination of the two.The drug could help those with problems such as poor sleep; low moods and poor concentration, and comes in the form of a liquid; tablet or capsule.

This drug is usually prescribe when other antidepressants have not worked, or have caused side effects; which range from being sick to more serious ones  such as seizures. Previously research studies using animal models and in cell culture have investigated the connected between this drug and the risk of dementia; highlighting a possible connection between the risk of dementia and those who take trazodone.

The median time it take to diagnose dementia for users of trazodone was around 1.8 years. The incidence of dementia among trazodone users was higher than in matched antidepressant users ;(1.8 vs 1.1 dementia cases per 100 person-years) with a hazard ratio of 1.80 (95 percent confidence interval).