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US University Collaboration Suggests Antidepressants May Change Personality, Leading To Reduced Depression

Posted Jan 04 2010 11:47am
This study, which was written about at Medical News Today, reports that antidepressants may indeed change long-term negative personality traits...One researcher states,"Our findings lead us to propose a new model of antidepressant mechanism," said lead author Tony Z. Tang of Northwestern University. "Our data suggests that modern antidepressants work partly by correcting key personality risk factors of depression."

Since 6-18 months is a typical duration for antidepressant treatment for PPD, this research seems especially applicable.  Certainly the aspect of neurotocism in terms of rigidity, high expectations, negativity and a more anxious personality are risk factors for PPD.  If these particular characteristics are effectively treated long-term, even well past tapering off of SSRIs, then I wonder if (and hope that) subsequent bouts of depression may be lessened in severity if PPD was treatly appropriately and for a significant enough length of time with antidepressants when experienced initially. 

As always, this piece reinforces the fact that therapy, in addition to anti-depressants, is the most effective form of treatment and also yields the best results long-term. Yet another reason for PPD advocates to get on their bandwagons and encourage PCPs and Obstetricians to screen for PPD and THEN REFER patients to physicians who specialize in Perinatal Mood Disorders!  Simply prescribing medication is often ineffective or less effective because the (PCP or OB-GYN) prescriber may not be best suited in drug matching to patient make-up or simply because the patient does not seek out therapy once she receives the medication.  Regardless, I will always recommend to those for whom I provide peer support that they seek a specialist, at least initially, so that the best and fastest results are the most likely.  (Caveat- if you cannot afford to or will choose not to seek additional treatment past your OB appt. or PCP visit, then some treatment is often better than none, so go ahead and try your doctor's suggested treatment, with caution.)
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