Personality, Thought To Be Stable Over Time, Changes In Healthy People Who Take A Widely Used Anti-Depressant

says. In addition, arsonists, violent criminals and people who die by violent methods of suicide score low on markers of serotonin activity, he adds, and studies of monkeys also indicate that low sociability and high hostility may be associated with low serotonin levels.

The UCSF investigators tracked changes in research subjects by taking measurements at the beginning of the study, after one week, and after four weeks. After only one week, anti-depressant recipients scored lower on measures of hostility, inversely related to blood levels of the anti-depressant.

"From a societal point of view, the result raises the issue of cosmetic psycho-pharmacology," Reus says. "To what degree should our expectations include not experiencing any significant distress if a drug is available that can reduce the dimensions of distress?"

The UCSF researchers also measured "affiliative behavior" by gauging how much study participants considered or solicited input from partners in solving a simple spatial puzzle. The same-sex, puzzle-solving pairs, each with one member of the placebo group and one from the anti-depressant group, were videotaped from behind a one-way mirror. The researchers determined that degree of cooperativeness in puzzle-solving corresponded to blood levels of paroxetine.

As a scientific control, neither study participants nor the scientists who measured their responses and observed their behavior knew who had received the active drug until the conclusion of the study.

Paroxetine is manufactured by SmithKline Beecham and sold under the brand name Paxil. It is one of a class of anti-depressant drugs known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, which have been in clinical use for a decade. SSRIs are believed to relieve symptoms of depression by increasing the availability of serotonin required to transmit electrical signals in nerve pathways affecting mood.

The new findings suggest that drugs affecting specific signaling p

Contact: UCSF News Services
University of California - San Francisco

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