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Emotional side-effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: qualitative study

  • Jonathan Price (a1), Victoria Cole (a1) and Guy M. Goodwin (a1)
Abstract
Background

Some people who take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants report that their experience of emotions is ‘blunted’. This phenomenon is poorly understood.

Aims

To understand patients' experiences of this phenomenon.

Method

Qualitative study, gathering data through individual interviews, a group interview and validation interviews; and searching patient websites for relevant posts.

Results

There was strong evidence that some people taking SSRIs experience significant emotional symptoms that they strongly attribute to their antidepressant. These emotional symptoms can be described within six key themes. A seventh theme represents the impact of these side-effects on everyday life, and an eighth represents participants' reasons for attributing these symptoms to their antidepressant. Most participants felt able to distinguish between emotional side-effects of antidepressants and emotional symptoms of their depression or other illness.

Conclusions

Emotional side-effects of SSRIs are a robust phenomenon, prominent in some people's thoughts about their medication, having a demonstrable impact on their functioning and playing a role in their decision-making about antidepressant adherence.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Jonathan Price, University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry, The Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK. Email: jonathan.price@psych.ox.ac.uk
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

J.P. has received grants and honoraria from Servier and is a former shareholder in a UK company marketing a computerised CBT package for depression. G.G. has received grants from Sanofi-Aventis and Servier in the past and recent honoraria from AstraZeneca, BMS, Eisai, Lundbeck and Servier. He is a current advisor for AstraZeneca, BMS, Lilly, Lundbeck, P1Vital and Sanofi-Aventis, and a past advisor for Servier and Wyeth.

Footnotes
References
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Emotional side-effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: qualitative study

  • Jonathan Price (a1), Victoria Cole (a1) and Guy M. Goodwin (a1)
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