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Psychiatric disorders, psychotropic medication use and falls among women: an observational study

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posted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by Lana WilliamsLana Williams, Julie PascoJulie Pasco, Amanda StuartAmanda Stuart, Felice JackaFelice Jacka, Sharon Brennan-OlsenSharon Brennan-Olsen, Amelia Dobbins, R Honkanen, H Koivumaa-Honkanen, P H Rauma, Michael BerkMichael Berk
BACKGROUND: Psychotropic agents known to cause sedation are associated with an increased risk of falls, but the role of psychiatric illness as an independent risk factor for falls is not clear. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the association between psychiatric disorders, psychotropic medication use and falls risk. METHODS: This study examined data collected from 1062 women aged 20-93 yr (median 50 yr) participating in the Geelong Osteoporosis Study, a large, ongoing, population-based study. Depressive and anxiety disorders for the preceding 12-month period were ascertained by clinical interview. Current medication use and falls history were self-reported. Participants were classified as fallers if they had fallen to the ground at least twice during the same 12-month period. Anthropometry, demographic, medical and lifestyle factors were determined. Logistic regression was used to test the associations, after adjusting for potential confounders. RESULTS: Fifty-six women (5.3%) were classified as fallers. Those meeting criteria for depression within the past 12 months had a 2.4-fold increased odds of falling (unadjusted OR = 2.4, 95% CI 1.2-4.5). Adjustment for age and mobility strengthened the relationship (adjusted OR = 2.7, 95% CI 1.4-5.2) between depression and falling, with results remaining unchanged following further adjustment for psychotropic medication use (adjusted OR = 2.7, 95% CI 1.3-5.6). In contrast, past (prior to 12-month) depression were not associated with falls. No association was observed between anxiety and falls risk. Falling was associated with psychotropic medication use (unadjusted OR = 2.8, 95% CI 1.5-5.2), as well as antidepressant (unadjusted OR = 2.4, 95% CI 1.2-4.8) and benzodiazepine use (unadjusted OR = 3.4, 95% CI 1.6-7.3); associations remained unchanged following adjustment for potential confounders. CONCLUSION: The likelihood of falls was increased among those with depression within the past 12 months, independent of psychotropic medication use and other recognised confounders, suggesting an independent effect of depression on falls risk. Psychotropic drug use was also confirmed as an independent risk factor for falls, but anxiety disorders were not. Further research into the underlying mechanisms is warranted.



BMC psychiatry



Article number



1 - 7


BioMed Central


London, Eng.







Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2015, The Authors