Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Memantine Doesn't Improve Depression and Apathy in Disabled Older Patients

Memantine doesn’t appear to offer improvement to elderly patients who suffer a disabling medical event and subsequently become depressed and apathetic. Preclinical data have suggested that memantine,  used for treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease, could reduce depressive and amotivated behavior occurring in the context of psychosocial stress. Researchers at Washington University  examined whether memantine could reduce depressive symptoms and amotivation manifesting in older adults after a disabling medical event, thereby improving their functional recovery. They recruited patients aged 60 and older who had suffered a disabling medical event and were admitted to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation. Participants with significant depressive symptoms and/or significant apathy symptoms were randomized to treatment with memantine or placebo for 12 weeks.

Both groups showed reduction in depressive symptoms and improved function, but no significant reduction in apathy symptoms; there were no group differences between those who received memantine and those who received placebo. “Memantine was not associated with superior affective or functional outcome compared with placebo in medically rehabilitating older adults with depressive and apathy symptoms,” wrote the researchers online December 16 in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Memantine's benefit in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease has also been recently questioned. Read more in the Journal Digest feature of Psychiatric News.
(Image: Yuri Arcurs/