Antidepressant supports therapy

Antidepressants strengthen the effects of extinction training for fear erasure, according to research headed by Eero Castrén, Professor of Neurobiology at the University of Helsinki.

Antidepressant supports therapy

The research group conducted a test on a group of mice that were conditioned to fear a sound signal. After this, the mice were treated with three different methods. The first group received extinction training, the second group received antidepressant medication while the third group was treated with both methods.

The extinction training first seemed effective and the mice were freed from their fear, but the effect disappeared in approximately a week. Administering antidepressants alone had no effect on the reaction of mice. However, the combination of extinction training and drug therapy lead to a long-term alleviation of fear.

According to Castrén, the study shows that combined with psychological therapy, antidepressant drugs are an effective treatment.

"Combining psychotherapy and antidepressant drugs seems to be clearly the most effective treatment for mood disorders.

The underlying factors are the neurobiological effects of antidepressant drugs, such as fluoxetine, which was used in this particular study.

"The drug brings back some of the elasticity to the brain that it had in early development. This makes the effects of extinction training more pronounced,” Castrén explains.

He compares antidepressant drugs to anabolic steroids


“Muscles will not, however, grow as a result of popping steroids and lying on the sofa,” Castrén points out.

The results of the study were published in the 23 December 2011 issue of Science.

The results are supported by the findings of a study on patients conducted in New York. Patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder recovered more quickly if their extinction training was combined with antidepressant drug therapy.

Science: Fear Erasure in Mice Requires Synergy Between Antidepressant Drugs and Extinction Training » »
Eero Castrén in Research Database TUHAT » »

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Text: Juha Merimaa
Photo: 123rf
Translation: AAC Global
University of Helsinki, digital communications

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