Adding the Alzheimer drug memantine (Namenda, Allergan) to treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor may improve depressive symptoms, executive function, and other outcomes in older patients with both depression and cognitive complaints, new research suggests. The findings were presented at the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP) 2019.

In a randomized controlled study, the combination treatment was superior to escitalopram (Lexapro, Allergan) alone on a number of measures, lead author Helen Lavretsky, MD, professor of psychiatry, University of California, Los Angeles.

“From day one, adding memantine was helpful for outcomes of depression, anxiety, apathy, and overall improvement, and was also helpful on cognitive outcomes at 12 months,” she said.

This is the first study of the use memantine, an agent that targets glutamate neuronal transmission, to treat geriatric patients who are experiencing depression and cognitive impairment, said Lavretsky.

The 12-month study included 95 patients (mean age, 72 years) with depression who were taking escitalopram in daily doses of between 5 and 20 mg (mean dose, about 11 mg).

FROM: Medscape Medical News