Two common antidepressants could be used by people who suffer from anxiety after tests showed they reduced the condition within three hours, a new study has claimed.
An Oxford University neuroscientist looked at the effect citalopram and reboxetine, which target serotonin and noradrenaline neurotransmitters in the brain respectively, had on a group of 42 healthy patients.
The volunteers were given either one of the two drugs or a placebo before being shown a photograph with two faces on it, one with a neutral expression and the other looking fearful. In measuring reaction time, patients given one of the two drugs displayed a reduced vigilance to the fearful facial expression.
Dr Susannah Murphy, of the university’s Psychopharmacology and Emotion Research Laboratory, told the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ International Congress in Edinburgh that the treatments could be used to enhance psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy.
She said: “It’s quite extraordinary that these changes take place so early. It really challenges us to think quite differently about the way antidepressants work. It’s a different message for patients - as soon as you start taking the drugs, it starts changing the way the brain works. It doesn’t have to take weeks.”