BACKGROUND Non-institutionalised patients treated with antidepressants have been shown to have indicators of a generalised vulnerability, such as high rates of health service use and excessive prescription drug use. Therefore, mortality in this patient group is of interest.
METHOD All first-incidence antidepressant users in a defined population during a five-year period were identified. Their total mortality during a nine-year follow-up was analysed. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to analyse total mortality, and mortality in cardiovascular disease, controlling for baseline chronic medical disease.
RESULTS Antidepressant treatment at the index date was a statistically significant predictor for increased long-term mortality in the over-65s, even when controlling for pre-existing chronic medical disease. Baseline ischaemic heart disease and concurrent antidepressant treatment significantly predicted mortality from cardiovascular causes.
CONCLUSION Prescribed antidepressant treatment identifies patients who are at risk of increased mortality. For the physician in ambulatory care, knowledge of a patient's antidepressant treatment history may be a valuable tool in managing patient care.