Personality Speaking Antidepressants Work

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A new antidepressant treatment study now suggests that it is in personality, and in the changes to that personality through taking particular antidepressant medications like paroxetine (Paxil) that bring about improvement in the patient.

The study shows that it may not be down to the medications ability to lift mood, but may actually be born out of the direct effect of the drug, and by this means depression is lifted.

Where neuroticism is evident in a person, whereby they are more prone to experience negative emotions, and mood swings it is in these people where depression is likely to emerge. This neuroticism is just one of 5 traits of personality which scientists are now using in order to organise the understanding of personality. On the list also are openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and extraversion.

Whilst it has become evident that levels of neuroticism decrease when a patient undergoes antidepressant treatment, also reported is an increase in extraversion levels and a lifting of depression symptoms. It was up to this point assumed that these personality traits change was more the result of the lifting of the depression and not the cause.

It is out of studies in twins that evidence has emerged how to a large extent those very same genetic factors underlie risk of both depression and neuroticism. It has also been concluded through research how the neurotransmitter that is serotonin, does play a role in both neuroticism and extraversion expression. The serotonin reuptake inhibitors actually cause an increase to the neurotransmitters availability.

Investigator Tony Tang set about a course of investigation to test out the relationship that exists between SSRIs and the personality of the patient. Tony and colleagues of his at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, made a random assignment of people suffering from disorders like (MDD) Major Depressive Disorder. These persons were then treated with paroxetine, placebo and cognitive therapy. It was one or the other, with 120 of the 240 individuals in the study using the drug.

The study shows how the placebo didn’t have the effects of the cognitive therapy and the drug. After eight weeks of study this was determined and along with that fact it was seen that the measure of neuroticism in the patient who received these two treatments also dropped. There was an increase in these two sets of patients with regard to rises in extraversion also. The changes were described as ’striking’ by the scientists.

There were small changes with regard to both character traits in the placebo taking patients, but with those who were actually taking the drugs the results showed a change by as much as a factor of eight.  Whilst the degree of improvement in the actual depression may have been the same for the placebo and the drug taking groups, there was a much higher rate of personality change on the drug taking patient. The suggestion from this research is that it is not the result of the drugs lifting depression that brings the personality change but the drug itself.

There were also decreases in depression levels amongst those treated by CT, these persons experienced a heightening in their levels of extraversion, however their levels of neuroticism were not affected.

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