SSRIs Are Associated with Mild Cognitive Impairment. (Watch Geriatric Patients Closely)

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may produce cognitive impairment that is mild but sufficient to have a negative impact on patients' daily lives, Patricia M. Furlan, Ph.D., said at a conference on psychopharmacology sponsored by New York University.

Such changes may be not be reported subjectively, suggesting the need for formalized testing, particularly with elderly patients, said Dr. Furlan of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. In one study differences were found in the patterns of cognitive effects with two agents, sertraline and paroxetine.

Cognitive difficulties, which are commonly associated with many psychotropic drugs, are not always mentioned in package inserts. Clinicians become aware of them, if at all, through unstructured, open-ended questioning.

Although this approach gains some information, it fails to detect subclinical deficits in the specific areas of cognitive functioning addressed by formalized psychological testing: memory, learning, psychomotor performance, and attention.

Little research has been done to measure cognitive toxicity associated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), even though clinical experience suggests that it does occur. Iatrogenic impairment in memory and other areas is particularly important with geriatric patients. Such impairment may be mistaken for early signs of dementia. …