Antidepressants can numb enjoyment as well as pain, scientists say 

Antidepressants may numb both pleasure and pain by making patients feel emotionally bored, scientists say

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) cause a “blunting” of pleasure
  • They target serotonin and remove emotional pain, but also some enjoyment.
  • The ‘blunt’ could affect 40 to 60 percent of patients taking SSRIs

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Antidepressants can make patients feel emotionally bored, scientists say.

One class of antidepressants, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), target serotonin, the “feel good” chemical that carries messages between nerve cells in the brain.

A side effect of SSRIs is ‘numbing’, where patients say they cannot respond with the level of pleasure they normally would.

Professor Barbara Sahakian, from the University of Cambridge, is lead author of the study on the side effects of SSRIs.

Antidepressants can make patients feel emotionally bored, say scientists (file image)

Antidepressants can make patients feel emotionally bored, say scientists (file image)

A side effect of SSRIs is 'numbing', where patients say they can't respond with the level of pleasure they normally would (stock image)

A side effect of SSRIs is 'numbing', where patients say they can't respond with the level of pleasure they normally would (stock image)

A side effect of SSRIs is ‘numbing’, where patients say they can’t respond with the level of pleasure they normally would (stock image)

She said: “They take away some of the emotional pain that people experiencing depression feel, but unfortunately they seem to take away some of the enjoyment as well.”

It is believed that between 40 and 60 percent of patients taking SSRIs experience blunting.

The study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, consisted of 66 volunteers.

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