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Escitalopram beneficial against neuroticism

02 Nov 2019

Treatment with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor escitalopram may confer beneficial effects on neuroticism, possibly by inducing reduction in anxiety, a recent study has shown.

Researchers reanalysed data from a randomized placebo‐controlled trial that failed to find an effect of escitalopram on neuroticism and state anxiety in a nonclinical sample to examine the drug’s unique effects on two neuroticism factors, trait anxiety and mood instability.

The study population included 80 adults free of psychiatric disorders but who had a first‐degree relative with major depression. These adults were randomized to receive escitalopram 10 mg/day or placebo for 4 weeks.

A greater reduction in the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ) trait anxiety was observed in the escitalopram group, whereas EPQ mood instability decreased more in the placebo group, although neither difference was statistically significant.

Of note, participants in the escitalopram vs placebo group showed a greater decline in the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM‐A) scores, but the difference was only borderline statistically significant (p=0.09).

There was a significant interaction between baseline EPQ neuroticism and treatment condition (p=0.004), such that the effect of escitalopram on HAM‐A scores was statistically significant in participants with higher levels of EPQ trait anxiety, even after controlling for baseline HAM‐A scores.

According to the researchers, the present data could be used to guide future research on the effects of antidepressants in nonclinical populations. They underscored the need to replicate the findings in a properly designed study, given the posthoc and exploratory nature of the current analysis.

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