What is a fast acting antidepressant

Scopolamine as a fast-acting antidepressant

The anticholinergic scopolamine also relieves severe depression. The effects set in within three days - and therefore much faster than conventional antidepressants, which take effect after two to four weeks. This is what US researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda report in the journal “Biological Psychiatry” (doi: 10.1016 / j.biopsych.2009.11.021). In a double-blind crossover study, 23 patients with severe depression first received intravenous scopolamine and then placebo or vice versa. After the first application, the symptoms improved by 32.5 percent with scopolamine, compared to only 6.5 percent with the placebo.


"Scopolamine reduced the symptoms of depression within three days of the first application," said study leader Dr. Maura Furey in a press release. “In fact, the test subjects reported that they felt an improvement immediately after the application. In addition, half of the participants experienced a full remission of symptoms at the end of the treatment phase. The subjects also felt good during the subsequent placebo treatment. " In the opinion of the authors, this shows an effective antidepressant therapy even two weeks after the last treatment.


Scopolamine reversibly blocks the muscarinic receptor, which is suspected to be overactive in depressed patients. The tricyclic antidepressants also have this effect. However, this mechanism also results in anticholinergic side effects, which has resulted in the development of more selective antidepressants. The study also showed adverse effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, blurred vision and low blood pressure. Further studies must show whether the benefit of the rapid onset of action outweighs the damage caused by intolerance. (db)


05.03.2010 PZ

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