Jan 23, 2023

Scientists explain emotional ‘blunting’ caused by common antidepressants

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, neuroscience

Scientists have worked out why common anti-depressants cause around half of users to feel emotionally “blunted.” In a study published today in Neuropsychopharmacology, they show that the drugs affect reinforcement learning, an important behavioral process that allows people to learn from their environment.

According to the NHS, more than 8.3 million patients in England received an in 2021/22. A widely used class of antidepressants, particularly for persistent or severe cases, is (SSRIs). These drugs target serotonin, a chemical that carries messages between in the brain and has been dubbed the “pleasure chemical.”

One of the widely reported side effects of SSRIs is “blunting,” where patients report feeling emotionally dull and no longer finding things as pleasurable as they used to. Between 40% and 60% of patients taking SSRIs are believed to experience this side effect.

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