SSRI Antidepressants & Fear Extinction
SSRI Antidepressants: Block Fear Extinction?
Fear extinction refers to the reduction in a conditioned fearful response when a stimulus is presented. The memories are not erased, but the stimulus is learned to be dealt with in a healthy, correct way.1 Recently, researchers have found that SSRI antidepressants help to block fear extinction learning in rats, leading them to realize other treatments will need to be tested for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).1
Fear Extinction Treated with an SSRI
For humans, fear extinction is usually treated with exposure therapy, often accompanied by an SSRI.1 Therefore, it was surprising for researchers to learn that SSRIs actually block extinction learning.1 Thankfully, finding out that SSRIs have such a response on rats will help raise many fundamental questions in the clinical field regarding extinction learning and SSRI treatment.
SSRI & Fear Extinction: More to Be Known
More research is needed to truly know if an SSRI will hinder exposure learning in the long run, or whether patients with PTSD should be taking an SSRI at all.1 These questions are now beginning to be tested in new clinical studies.1
Still, results have continued to be mixed regarding rodents and fear extinction.1 While antidepressants helped mice with such, the current study in rats did not show the same results.1 Hopefully, further studies will begin to pinpoint whether or not antidepressants are helpful for patients with PTSD.1
 Levin, A. (2013, March 15). What Is the Link Between SSRIs and Fear Extinction?. Psychiatry Online. Retrieved March 20, 2013, from http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/newsArticle.aspx?articleid=1668016. SSRI.