Helen Fisher is an anthropologist who has looked at how antidepressants effect romantic love, falling in love and most importantly ongoing attachment. The conclusion being that the love response and the human instinct for attachment are profoundly messed up. Antidepressants don’t just create sexual dysfunction, they wreak havoc with the whole emotional system that creates attachment to other human beings. In my experience it is not only the antidepressants that do this. As far as I can tell all psychiatric drugs do it. As I’ve said before the only reason they look at antidepressants is because they are so mainstream. The other psych meds aren’t taken by as many “normal” people as the antidepressants do so they haven’t been studied by this woman who is basically making a social commentary. It would be nice if she extended her studies to include all psychotropics, but it feels rather typical that we who have been on the stronger stuff would be overlooked, as is so often the case.
My relationship has certainly suffered as a result of blunted feelings and those feelings were blunted well after I got off antidepressants as they were the first drug to go in the process of psychiatric drug withdrawal.
Below is from an article in the LA times about a couple of years ago. I’ve written about this topic before but it bears repeating:
Couples think about the other obsessively – on a roller coaster of euphoria when together, longing when apart.
“It’s temporary insanity,” says Helen Fisher, an evolutionary anthropologist at Rutgers University.
Now, from her studies of the brains of lovers in the throes of the initial tumble, Fisher has developed a controversial theory. She and her collaborator, psychiatrist J. Anderson Thomson of the University of Virginia, believe that Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and other antidepressants alter brain chemistry so as to blunt the intense cutting edge of new love.
Fisher and Thomson, who describe their theory in a chapter in the book, “Evolutionary Cognitive Neuroscience,” aren’t talking just about the notorious ability of the drugs to damp sexual desire and performance, although that, they believe, plays its part. They think the drugs also sap the craving for a mate – perhaps even the brain’s very ability to fall in love.
And here is a video of her speaking on the same topic but emphasizing different things which I think are more important:
This fact alone about psychiatric drugs is enough to undermine society. Don’t think this doesn’t affect parent’s ability to love and bond with their children. And then when you think about all the kids on these drugs who simply don’t develop normally. Teenage hormones are part of growing up. What happens when you skip that developmental stage? What happens if you never enter it at all due to a lifetime of being on drugs? We are stopping the human experience from happening.
First posted in 2008. If you’re interested in the many comments that were made at that time look here.