There is no surprise or news that some drugs, especially those used to treat mental or emotional conditions, present themselves with a long list of side-effects any psychiatrist or MD knows and warns the patients about. Moreover, research studies in the field of psychopharmacology have a long history, of tens of years old.
Even if today’s modern medicine began to look for solutions in order to counter the negative outcomes of long term use of psychiatric drugs, there is still a large number of studies that are concerned with these negative effects, not to throw in a shadow of a doubt the efficiency of drug-based therapies for mental illness, but to make sure the doctors make the right prescriptions to the right patients.
Also, one great benefit of these type of meta-analytic studies is that they also increase the general population’s awareness in the existence of mechanisms used to cope with the side-effects.
One of these recent studies focused on an extensive review of research regarding the effects of psychiatric drugs in the elderly population, in order to stress the importance of medical-use awareness and to clear a series of differential diagnosis issues. The team, specialized in both pharmacology and geriatrics, studied the medical literature in order to select the most pertinent papers describing the relationship between medical treatment and memory, attention, concentration and intellectual performance impairments. Three large classes of drugs drew their attention.
Benzodiazepines, one of the most known and used therapy drugs to treat anxiety and insomnia, have been found as inducing a constant and long-term effect in the elderly patients, the researchers stressing the direct relationship between the dosage and the degree of impairment.
Tricyclic Antidepressants is a class of drugs regularly associated with a very long list of negative side-effects, both somatic and psychological. They are also the subject of toxicity studies and their risks are discussed by medical boards every day. Having also a social impact, antidepressants have been found in this current study as having a causal relationship with cognitive and intellectual impairments in elders.
Anticholinergic medication is part of the large class of anti – allergic medication, along with antihistamine. Some of these drugs’ side effects have been extensively studied along the years, in this particular case they being found on negatively influencing attention and cognitive processing.
By revealing these conclusions drawn after the literature review they conducted, the authors’ intention does not consists in denying the therapeutic benefits of these drugs, but to insist that patients must be clearly informed and updated by their doctors, who have the responsibility to present their patients an advantages vs. disadvantages list, when deciding to prescribe a certain class of medication. Moreover, this emphasis on the elder population is also very important, mostly because this is a population segment the most exposed to medication usage and multiple diagnostics.