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Newer Antidepressants May Be Safe for Parkinson's Patients
Date:4/11/2012

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- Some of the newer antidepressants can help treat depression in people with Parkinson's disease without aggravating other disease symptoms such as tremor or rigidity, researchers have found.

Nearly 1 million people in the United States are living with Parkinson's disease, a progressive movement disorder marked by tremor, slowness and/or rigidity. Parkinson's disease and depression tend to travel together, and there has been concern that some of the medications used to treat depression may worsen motor symptoms.

A new study published online April 11 and in the April 17 print issue of Neurology shows that this is not the case, at least when it comes to the antidepressants Paxil (paroxetine) and Effexor (venlafaxine).

Paxil is in the class of drugs known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) while Effexor is an SNRI (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor).

In the new study of 115 people with Parkinson's disease, participants received Paxil, Effexor or an inactive "placebo" pill. The researchers followed-up with patients for 12 weeks and found that both antidepressants improved symptoms of depression without worsening some of the motor symptoms associated with the disease.

On average, those people who took Paxil had a 59 percent improvement and those receiving Effexor had a 52 percent improvement in scores on a standardized tool measuring depression. People who received the placebo had a 32 percent improvement. Three other depression-rating scales showed similar results.

The drugs did not lead to any worsening in motor symptoms, the investigators noted. Use of antidepressants did not improve anxiety levels, thought processes or overall health-related quality of life among the study participants.

Sleep problems were among the most commonly reported side effects. Weight gain was seen with
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