How antidepressants may hack your life?

Widely used antidepressants cause "emotional blunting", according to research that offers new insights into how the drugs may work and their possible side-effects.

The study found that healthy volunteers became less responsive to positive and negative feedback after taking a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drug for three weeks. The "blunting" of negative emotions could be part of how the drugs help people recover from depression, but could also explain a common side-effect.

The work's senior author, Prof Barbara Sahakian of the University of Cambridge, said: "In a way, this may be in part how they work. They take away some of the emotional pain that people who experience depression feel, but unfortunately it seems that they also take away some of the enjoyment."

The findings could help patients make better informed choices about their medication, she said, but added "there is no doubt that antidepressants are beneficial" for many patients.

According to the NHS more than 8.3 million patients in England received an antidepressant drug in 2021-22. SSRIs are among the most widely used, and are effective for the majority of, although not all, patients.

Some people on the medication report feeling emotionally dull or no longer finding things as pleasurable, with one study suggesting this applied to 40-60% of people taking the drug. [1]

There is a definite correlation between cardiovascular diseases and depressive disorders.
Nevertheless, many aspects of this association have yet to be fully elucidated. Up to half of coronary artery disease patients are liable to suffer from some depressive symptoms, with approximately 20% receiving a diagnosis of major depressive disorders. Pharmacotherapy is a key factor in the management of major depression, not least in patients with chronic diseases who are likely to fail to show proper compliance and response to non-pharmacological interventions.

Antidepressants are not deemed completely safe. Indeed, numerous side effects have been reported with the administration of antidepressants, among which cardiovascular adverse events are of paramount importance owing to their disabling and life-threatening nature. [2]




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Saturday, 02 December 2023