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Antidepressants Also Reduce Positive Emotions

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Between 40% to 60% of people who take antidepressants find relief from their symptoms, whether it’s mild or severe, according to a January 2023 study published in the Neuropsychopharmacology report. The findings are not limited to just relief from depression symptoms, but also other symptoms as well.

The study showed this result.

Researchers studied the effects of escitalopram (Seroplex, Lexapro, Cipralex, Sipralexa…), an antidepressant belonging to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) class, using cognitive testing methods.

These tests evaluated both stable cognition (i.e. no impairment: prevention, avoiding confusion of thoughts, memory) and flexible cognition (i.e. adaptive thinking: making decisions, learning how to adapt) in people without depression (including the effects of the antidepressant on isolated depression).

Barbara Sahakian and Christelle Langley from the University of Cambridge and Copenhagen conducted the study and used 66 volunteers who took either 20 mg escitalopram or a placebo for about 21 days.

Antidepressants Also Reduce Positive Emotions

Escitalopram improved cognitive flexibility compared to the placebo. There was no significant difference between the two groups in “stable” or “flexible” cognition.

This improved cognitive flexibility shows the expected outcome from taking SSRI antidepressants, according to the researchers.

“Cognitive enhancement is a common outcome of SSRI antidepressant use. However, their ways of doing so may vary: they can reduce the negative cognitive impact of depression, but at the same time, they may diminish pleasure as well,” said Barbara Sahakian.

Escitalopram is one of the 8 antidepressants recommended by Prescrire, because “it presents fewer side effects compared to other antidepressant drugs, without necessarily being more effective than other antidepressants, which often depend on the individual.”

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