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 Marcia Purse

Can Medications Change Our Personality?

By December 9, 2009

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Antidepressants are a key component in the treatment of those with bipolar disorder. We all know they are used to treat depression including depression associated with bipolar as well as anxiety. And I think most of us probably have a grasp on the idea that antidepressant can be the culprits in triggering mania for some people. But here something we didn't know.

A new published study has found that antidepressants may actually cause a change in your personality. The research team found evidence that these medications decrease neuroticism and increase extraversion. These changes are independent of the improvements in depression though they do seem to predict how well and how long remission of symptoms may occur.

Anne Harding, in an article titled Antidepressants Change Personality, Study Suggests, quotes the lead author, Dr. Tony Tang, "Medication can definitely change people's personalities, and change them quite substantially. Those changes are very important."

She also makes an important note, "Although the new study sheds some light on the relationship between SSRIs and personality, there is much that remains unknown about these drugs." ~Kimberly

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December 10, 2009 at 12:07 am
(1) Rosiecee says:

antidepressants can be very dangerous for some people.

The Physicians Desk Reference states that SSRI antidepressants and all antidepressants can cause mania, psychosis, abnormal thinking, paranoia, hostility, etc. These side effects can also appear during withdrawal. Also, these adverse reactions are not listed as Rare but are listed as either Frequent or Infrequent.

Go to http://www.SSRIstories.com where there are over 3,400 cases, with the full media article available, involving bizarre murders, suicides, school shootings/incidents [51 of these] and murder-suicides – all of which involve SSRI antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, etc, . The media article usually tells which SSRI antidepressant the perpetrator was taking or had been using.

December 10, 2009 at 4:23 am
(2) Sophia says:

I reckon so… I mean, after nearly 5 years of medications for BP, I am literally a whole new person. I am not as confrontational anymore.. A lot less impulsive.. don’t know how to pick a fight.. I don’t know.. I am just NOT the old me.. I do have to admit there are parts of the new me I don’t like.. for example: because I am constantly aware of my illness, therefore, everytime when I feel like my temper is going off, I always try to hold it back. It then became blurry to me as to how angry is a normal anger, as oppose to being off the scale angry like a manic? if you see what I mean..

December 10, 2009 at 9:55 am
(3) Diana says:

I had a drastic personality change when I started taking bipolar meds. However, I felt like it was my true personality and the me before I began taking meds hadn’t been. It was as though the drugs actually freed me!

December 10, 2009 at 1:16 pm
(4) Jeff H says:

If these medicines did not change your personality, I don’t see the point in taking them. A regimen that stabilizes mood by definition fosters a change in personality.

December 10, 2009 at 4:21 pm
(5) Beth says:

Help, I am a wife of a BP person, married 20 years. I need help. Is there any group or blog or anything out there that can help me? I cannot find anything for those that deal with a BP spouse and could really use the support. I am trying to get my husband into a psychiatrist and they don’t have openigns for over a month. Feels like I am yelling for help and people are just walking on by.

December 11, 2009 at 7:36 am
(6) lkk says:

I’ve been taking Paxil for 3 years. I’m now able to drive anywhere, go on vacations, do volunteer work, attend classes, etc. It has freed me from my anxiety.

My son is bipolar. When he takes anti-depressants it makes him more manic and anxious.

December 11, 2009 at 10:43 am
(7) KC says:

I’m no expert, but have been BP-diagnosed since 2002. And I think it’s ‘insane’ to give a BP person antidepressants without a complementary prescription of a mood-stabilizer. Before diagnosis, I was given Paxil only for my anxiety, and I went completely berzerk. Ironically, that led me to leave a GP and finally see a psychiatrist, who properly diagnosed me. It took a few changes of meds before the right ones at the right levels got me to the point I’m at, which is a great state of being & stable now for several years but for mini-moodswings (I attribute to PMS and pre-menapausal fun, as they’re monthly-cyclical). Hey… guys haven’t got that to deal with. So they should do even better if they’re on the RIGHT meds. Not ‘just’ antidepressants, tho’.

December 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm
(8) Anniem says:

In answer to Beth: Try getting hold of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). Also, try going to http://www.recovery-inc.org. You will find help for your spouse as well as for yourself. You may even be able to find a meeting in your area. Good Luck and God Bless.

December 11, 2009 at 10:32 pm
(9) Meghan says:

I believe that my medication has actually allowed my true personality to appear after having been buried under a multitude of symptoms of bipolar disorder probably all my life. As I got older the periods when I had no symptoms at all became shorter and shorter, until they were pretty much non existent. I still cycle, but I function and I’m learning a lot about what was actually me and what was depression, mania, and mixed episodes. I’ll always be a little cynical and dark, but I’m not really a depressed person. I can be silly and let go sometimes. I can tell the difference of when I was 16 and got busted shoplifting, that was me, but when I was 31 and stole narcotics from work, that was a symptom of mania. I’m glad I can see the difference now because the sexual violent thoughts that came with the mania made me feel like a sick pervert…and I learned that I’m not after I started taking medication.

December 12, 2009 at 12:57 am
(10) robbi says:

I think they do change your personality. Before I was diagnosed in 88′, my dr. put me on antidepressants and I got manic and also had panic attacks. When they diagnosed me, They then added a mood stabllizer to to the antidepressants which really helped. I feel like I am not afraid to tell people how I feel anymore, or is it just me getting older. Something to think about.
As for Beth, anniem, Nami is a good place to go.

December 12, 2009 at 12:59 am
(11) robbi says:

I am sorry I meant to say that anniem is right……..sorry

December 12, 2009 at 1:14 am
(12) Nuttybythecoast says:

What Sophia (comment #2) says about holding back is just what I have experienced, going on 10 years as a medicated person. What is “normal” abnormal, really? Very frustrating.

December 12, 2009 at 1:48 am
(13) Kristine says:

Of course they change your personality. That is the whole point of taking them, isn’t it? It took me years to find the right combination. For my BP I take Cymbalta, which I think is great, and Prozac. I am also on two different antipsychotics and Klonipon. I never felt like “me”, if I ever really even knew me. I just knew that I wasn’t right, but now, finally, I feel like I think I should and I feel good.

December 12, 2009 at 5:05 pm
(14) Rigidflexibility says:

Between long term counselig, Bi Polar Meds and not drinking there has been a marked change in my personality. I’ve gone from whree Alcoholism, BP and PTSD had taken me back to where I was before I went off the wall. It is pleasant to be able to deal with situations or just leave if they get to be to much. Which is exactly what I did before the PTSD led to Alcohol and then to BP. Whatever, my life is much better now. It is a lot better for those around me and in my family.

December 13, 2009 at 9:21 pm
(15) Destiny says:

I think that the meds have definitely changed my personality. I was very much an introvert and I was afraid to tell how I felt, afraid to show anger (for fear of losing it), and terribly afraid to stand up for myself. I know the therapy has helped alot also, but the meds stabilize me much better today. I am on an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer. I can keep a job alot longer and get along much better with others. I don’t have panic attacks as frequent either. I actually feel human now.

December 19, 2009 at 1:19 am
(16) Sarah says:

This is why I backed off of medication. I value who I am.

March 15, 2010 at 8:25 pm
(17) Guch says:

The issue is, although you may feel like its really you, it isnt really you.

This drug, when used as intended, which is to say a short term period to deal with depression (severe depression only). Its a wonderful thing.

When used by people who want to get high and feel like a new person, its dangerous.

August 31, 2010 at 1:02 pm
(18) Julie says:

I have been for almost a year trying to get bp symptoms under control and I am very frustrated! It seems everything I try increases my feelings of irritability, hostility, anger…..I am so cofused and don’t know what to do.

June 22, 2011 at 2:32 am
(19) Ashley says:

My depression medicine helped me neutralize my ups and downs from my MDD, but my personality is completely different. I don’t have fun with my old friends. I stopped taking my depression meds gradually when i started college because my negative stimuli that caused my depression was gone. Its been a year and I am not depressed. but im not happy. I’m still very neutralized. I wish I could have my humor and optimism i had when i was mildly depressed.

Ashley, 19

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