In an interesting turn of events, scientists have determined that taking antidepressants tends to change the personalities of patients, but they say that the changes are probably for the best. The investigation has relied on studying a number of medications that are widely used to treat depression these days. The group of pills known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) has been the main target, and the research group has determined that the substances tend to make patients experience more positive emotions, become more stable in the long run, and also be more outgoing, LiveScience
“Our findings lead us to propose a new model of antidepressant mechanism. Our data suggests that modern antidepressants work partly by correcting key personality risk factors of depression,” Northwestern University expert Tony Z. Tang, who has been a member of the team behind the new study, says. The NU scientists have used SSRI paroxetine (Paxil and Seroxat) on more than 240 adults, all of them suffering from major depressive disorders. In the trials, a number of the patients have been given placebos, so that the efficiency of the paroxetine compounds could be accurately assessed.
In a find that is consistent with the conclusion of many other previous studies, the investigators have noticed that the SSRI works in relieving symptoms related to depression. But, moreover, they have also found that those who are on SSRI tend to show fewer signs of neuroticism as well. They are a lot more likely than those in the control group to be extrovert and engaged in connecting and communicating with other people. This is something that they were unable to do before taking the inhibitors. Both extroversion and neuroticism are important personality traits, and their actions have been connected to the serotonin system inside our bodies for a long time.
“One possibility is that the biochemical properties of SSRIs directly produce real personality change,” the research group writes in the December issue of the respected scientific journal Archives of General Psychiatry. The medication and the placebo pills used in the new investigation were provided by GlaxoSmithKline, while additional funding and support came from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in the United States.