Washington, June 18 : Older people and those who are suffering from depression are at an elevated risk of falling and being injured, according to a new study.
What's more, antidepressants increase the fall risk even more, the study found.
"People with depression and those taking antidepressants, especially Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), are 50 percent more likely to fall than other older people," said Ngaire Kerse, lead author of the study and associate professor in the Department of General Practice and Primary Healthcare at the School of Population Health in the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
"Falls are very common and risk factors for falls are easy to identify. We need to emphasize fall prevention during treatment of depression in older people," Kerse added.
In a study of 21,900 Australians over the age of 60, who responded to a survey sent out by their GP, 24 percent reported at least one fall during the last 12 months, 11 percent had injured themselves with falling and 8 percent had needed to see a doctor because of a fall.
About one quarter of the group reported symptoms of depression and 12 percent were taking some form of antidepressant.
While using antidepressants was a significant risk for falls, the highest risk (66 percent increase in falls) was seen when older people used SSRIs, the most frequently prescribed antidepressant (6 percent of people took this medication).
"This risk associated with SSRIs has been reported before but not in such a large group of older people living in the community," Kerse said.
"More than 60 percent of women aged over 80 with depression and taking an SSRI fell in the last year. This means that falls prevention strategies must really be thought of when prescribing antidepressants for older people," Kerse added.
The researchers also found that taking any antidepressant, ever having thought about suicide, having had a stroke, arthritis or more than 3 medical problems were associated with having more than one fall.
Women were more likely to sustain injury than men.
"Falls are important for all older people. But in people with depression, falls add to the consequences of depression. There is an opportunity to offer fall prevention strategies as part of the initial treatment for depression in patients and as part of ongoing treatment," Kerse said.
The study is published in journal PLoS ONE.