Barbara Liu, MD, FRCPC, Sunnybrook &Women's College Health Sciences Centre and the Kunin-Lunenfeld Applied Research Unit, Baycrest Centre, Toronto, ON.
Falls are a common problem among older patients. Medications in general, and psychotropic drugs in particular, have been shown to increase the risk of falls. The possible mechanisms whereby psychotropic drugs increase this risk include sedation, orthostatic hypotension, arrhythmias, confusion due to anticholinergic effects, and dopaminergic effects on balance and motor control. Several epidemiological studies have identified antidepressant use--both tricyclic and selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors--as a risk factor for falls. When treating a patient with an antidepressant, efforts should be made to reduce other modifiable risk factors for falls by optimizing intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors for falls.
Key words: falls, antidepressant, hip fracture, tricyclic antidepressant, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor.