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The Pros and Cons of Taking Antidepressants for Alzheimer’s

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerMay 19, 2014

A new study suggests that a certain type of antidepressant may prevent Alzheimer’s disease. While the results of the study are certainly promising there is more work to be done before the antidepressant will be prescribed for Alzheimer’s prevention. Learn more about the pros and cons of taking an antidepressant for Alzheimer’s and why some scientists are hesitant to prescribe them.

How Antidepressants Work

An antidepressant is a drug used to treat depression and other conditions ranging from anxiety disorders to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There are several classes of antidepressants and each class uses a different method to treat the patient. However, most antidepressants work by changing the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain to achieve the desired balance. A new study suggests that one type of antidepressant has the potential to prevent Alzheimer’s by driving down the production of beta-amyloid proteins, a protein commonly thought to cause the disease.

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Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease with Antidepressants

A recent study by the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University Medical School found that the antidepressant citalopram lowered the production of beta amyloid proteins in both mice and in healthy humans. Results were published in the Science Translational Medicine journal. The antidepressant, commonly known as Celexa, reduced the production of beta-amyloid proteins by 38% over a 28 day regimen.

This study could potentially be groundbreaking when it comes to preventing Alzheimer’s. The good news for those at risk for the disease is that Celexa is:

  • Widely used and accessible
  • Simple to take
  • Relatively inexpensive

A Word of Caution

While study results are certainly promising, some scientists are cautioning against using antidepressants to prevent Alzheimer’s. Dr. Lon Schneider, Alzheimer’s specialist at the University of Southern California says that it is too early to recommend anyone begin taking Celexa to prevent Alzheimer’s.

Before rushing out to get your prescription there are a few things to keep in mind:

Would you take an antidepressant like Celexa to prevent Alzheimer’s? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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Alissa Sauer
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Alissa Sauer

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