SSRIs Linked to Sleep Disturbances in Older Women

Study questions benefits and risks of SSRIs for older women

THURSDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Older women who take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are more likely to experience sleep disturbances regardless of whether or not they show evidence of depression compared with women who don't take antidepressants, according to a cross-sectional study in the October issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Kristine E. Ensrud, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues examined links between use of SSRIs and sleep disturbances among 2,630 women aged 71 and older who were not using antidepressants and 223 who were taking SSRIs alone without other antidepressants.

After excluding depressed women and controlling for other confounding variables, the women who took an SSRI were more than twice as likely to report sleeping five hours or less per night, a sleep efficiency of less than 70 percent. They also were more likely to report taking an hour or longer to fall asleep and 75 percent more likely to have eight or more long wake episodes at night than their counterparts who did not take antidepressants.

"These results raise some uncertainty regarding the risks and benefits of SSRI use in the older population and suggest that the potential for sleep disturbance should be considered when prescribing SSRIs to older people in clinical practice," the authors concluded.

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