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Study Links Long-Term Antidepressant Use to Learning Problems

A study published in the June 10, 2013 issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry found a potential link between long-term use of SSRI antidepressants and learning and memory impairment.

In the study, Dr. Nesha Burghardt and colleagues evaluated the long-term effects of SSRIs on rats in response to auditory fear conditioning. This type of learning involves the part of the brain that is essential for processing emotion and memory, the amygdala.

The rats studied demonstrated decreased levels of the N-Methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor (NR2B) in the amygdala. This receptor is vital for fear-based learning, leading the scientists to conclude that the reductions of this chemical in the rats’ brains, which they linked to long-term use of SSRIs, are responsible for the learning and memory impairment observed in the animals. This conclusion is supported by Burghardt’s earlier studies at New York University, where long-term use of SSRIs was linked to impaired fear conditioning and a lower level of extinction learning in rats.

SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant in the United States, and are used to treat depression and anxiety disorders. In recent years, a strong correlation has been found linking use of SSRIs during pregnancy to a range of congenital birth defects.

The alleged link between SSRI antidepressants and birth defects has been the subject of a steadily increasing number of personal injury lawsuits brought on behalf of families claiming that they were not sufficiently warned about the risk of SSRI birth defects.

If you believe you have suffered harm as a result of SSRI antidepressant side effects, you could be entitled to pursue substantial compensation for your damages. To speak with an experienced defective drug lawyer who handles claims throughout the state of Connecticut, contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today.