Medications frequently prescribed for depression may not lighten a person’s mood until they brighten his or her personality. A new study suggests that the antidepressant medication paroxetine, or Paxil, fights depression most effectively when it first modifies
high neuroticism and low extraversion,
two personality traits that predispose people to this mood disorder.
Patients who experienced especially pronounced personality change during four months of Paxil treatment displayed a particularly low depression relapse rate over the next year of treatment,
“This is more evidence than I’ve seen before that personality changes drive antidepressant responses, but it’s still a small study,” remarks psychiatrist Andrew Leuchter
For reasons that remain unclear, only about 1 in 3 depressed patients will experience remission when taking one of the SSRIs. When SSRIs work, patients become more outgoing and develop closer relationships with others, Leuchter notes.