Antidepressant could offer dementia protection

2 December 2015

Escitalopram, a substance commonly used to treat depression, anxiety and panic attacks, seems to offer protection against two neurotoxic chemicals linked to dementia, according to researchers at the Loyola University Medical Center.

The study was based on comparing 30 severely depressed people with 27 healthy subjects. The depressed participants were treated with escitalopram for 12 weeks, and then followed up to see what effect it had on them.

Of the 20 who completed the study, 80 per cent reported at least partial relief of their depressive symptoms. This is significant because depression can cause an inflammatory response that encourages the production of certain neurotoxins that can damage brain tissue.

The participants treated with escitalopram were found to have significantly lower levels of 3-hydroxykynurenine and quinolinic acid once they had completed the course of medication.

Although the study is relatively small, its authors hope it could pave the way for future research into the potential anti-dementia effects of antidepressants.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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