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Br J Psychiatry. 2009 Jun;194(6):535-40. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.108.056093.

Effect of a single dose of citalopram on amygdala response to emotional faces.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX. Susannah.Murphy@psych.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are typically thought to have a delay of several weeks in the onset of their clinical effects. However, recent reports suggest they may have a much earlier therapeutic onset. A reduction in amygdala responsivity has been implicated in the therapeutic action of SSRIs.

AIMS:

To investigate the effect of a single dose of an SSRI on the amygdala response to emotional faces.

METHOD:

Twenty-six healthy volunteers were randomised to receive a single oral dose of citalopram (20 mg) or placebo. Effects on the processing of facial expressions were assessed 3 h later using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

RESULTS:

Volunteers treated with citalopram displayed a significantly reduced amygdala response to fearful facial expressions compared with placebo.

CONCLUSIONS:

Such an immediate effect of an SSRI on amygdala responses to threat supports the idea that antidepressants have an earlier onset of therapeutically relevant effects than conventionally thought.

PMID:
19478294
PMCID:
PMC2802527
DOI:
10.1192/bjp.bp.108.056093
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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