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AAN: Depression May Be Early Sign of Parkinson Disease

Current antidepressant users may have doubled risk of Parkinson's compared to non-users

FRIDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- Current antidepressant use is associated with nearly double the risk of developing Parkinson disease, suggesting that depression may be an early symptom of the disease, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Boston.

Miguel Hernan, M.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues searched a United Kingdom database containing information on more than 3 million patients. They identified 1,052 people with Parkinson disease and matched them with 6,634 controls.

The researchers found that patients who used either selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants during the previous year had a higher risk of developing Parkinson disease than those who never used antidepressants (odds ratio, 1.8). They also found that the association between current antidepressant use and Parkinson disease was consistent for men and women of all ages. The investigators found no increased risk among patients who had not taken antidepressants over the previous year.

"This should not be interpreted as evidence that antidepressants cause Parkinson disease," Hernan said in a statement. "The relationship is only apparent in the year before the onset of the disease, which suggests that depression is an early symptom of the disease."

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