Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Antidepressants Help Patients Focus on the Positive, Study Shows

Antidepressant medication appears to modify emotional information by helping people focus more on positive stimuli and less on negative stimuli. That is the key finding of the study "Effect of Antidepressant Medication Use on Emotional Information Processing in Major Depression" by researchers at Oklahoma State University and three other institutions using an eye-tracking test to examine how medicated and unmedicated patients with depression processed visual information. The findings are published in AJP in Advance. The researchers used the test to examine the effects of antidepressant medication on selective attention for emotional stimuli in a sample of 47 patients with major depressive disorder (21 medicated and 26 unmedicated) and 47 matched comparison subjects without depression.

Participants completed a passive-viewing eye-tracking task assessing selective attention for positive, dysphoric, threatening, and neutral stimuli in addition to providing medication information and self-report measures of depression and anxiety severity.

Both depressed subjects currently taking antidepressants and nondepressed comparison subjects showed greater total gaze duration and more fixations for positive stimuli compared with unmedicated depressed subjects. Depressed subjects taking an antidepressant also had fewer fixations for dysphoric stimuli than did depressed subjects not on medication.

“These results are consistent with previous work and indicate a robust effect for antidepressants on positive information processing,” the researchers concluded. “They also provide further evidence for modification of information processing as a potential mechanism of action for antidepressant medication.”

To read more about the use of antidepressants, see The Evidence-Based Guide to Antidepressant Medications from American Psychiatric Publishing.

(Image: Mark Carrel/shutterstock.com)


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.