Antidepressants can numb enjoyment as well as pain, scientists say

Antidepressants can numb enjoyment as well as pain by making patients feel emotionally dull, scientists say

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIS) cause ‘blunting’ of enjoyment
  • They target serotonin and take away emotional pain but also some enjoyment
  • ‘Blunting’ could affect between 40 and 60 per cent of patients taking SSRIs 

Antidepressants can make patients feel emotionally dull, according to scientists.

One class of antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), targets serotonin, the ‘feel-good’ chemical that carries messages between nerve cells in the brain.

A SSRI side-effect is ‘blunting’, where patients say they cannot respond with the level of enjoyment they normally would.

Professor Barbara Sahakian, of the University of Cambridge, is a senior author on the study of SSRI side-effects.

Antidepressants can make patients feel emotionally dull, according to scientists (file image)

A SSRI side-effect is ‘blunting’, where patients say they cannot respond with the level of enjoyment they normally would (file image)

She said: ‘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.’

Between 40 and 60 per cent of patients taking SSRIs are thought to experience blunting. 

The study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, was made up of 66 volunteers.

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