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Effect of a single dose of citalopram on amygdala response to emotional faces

Abstract
Background

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are typically thought to have a delay of several weeks in the onset of their clinical effects. However, recent reports suggest they may have a much earlier therapeutic onset. A reduction in amygdala responsivity has been implicated in the therapeutic action of SSRIs.

Aims

To investigate the effect of a single dose of an SSRI on the amygdala response to emotional faces.

Method

Twenty-six healthy volunteers were randomised to receive a single oral dose of citalopram (20 mg) or placebo. Effects on the processing of facial expressions were assessed 3 h later using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Results

Volunteers treated with citalopram displayed a significantly reduced amygdala response to fearful facial expressions compared with placebo.

Conclusions

Such an immediate effect of an SSRI on amygdala responses to threat supports the idea that antidepressants have an earlier onset of therapeutically relevant effects than conventionally thought.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr Susannah Murphy, Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX. Email: Susannah.Murphy@psych.ox.ac.uk
Footnotes
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This research was funded by a Wellcome Trust studentship.

Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
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Effect of a single dose of citalopram on amygdala response to emotional faces

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