Study Finds Antidepressants Blunt Empathy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Markus Rütgen Post-doctoral researcher Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Unit Faculty of Psychology University of Vienna

Dr. Ruetgen

Dr. Markus Rütgen PhD
Post-doctoral researcher
Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Unit
Faculty of Psychology
University of Vienna 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Previous research has reported empathy deficits in patients with major depressive disorder. However, a high percentage of patients taking part in these studies were taking antidepressants, which are known to influence emotion processing. In our study, we wanted to overcome this important limitation. We were interested in whether the previously reported empathic deficits were attributable to the acute state of depression, or to the antidepressant treatment.

To this end, we performed a longitudinal neuroimaging study, in which we measured brain activity and self-reported empathy in response to short video clips showing people in pain. We measured acutely depressed patients twice. First, before they started their treatment, second, after three months of treatment with a state-of-the-art antidepressant (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).

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Opioids During Hospitalization Linked to Post-Discharge Opioid Prescriptions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Julie Donohue, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management Vice Chair for Research Graduate School of Public Health University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Donohue

Dr. Julie Donohue, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management
Vice Chair for Research
Graduate School of Public Health
University of Pittsburgh

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The opioid epidemic is exacting a significant burden on families, communities and health systems across the U.S. Prescription and illicit opioids are responsible for the highest drug overdose mortality rates ever recorded. We know from previous studies that some surgical and medical patients who fill opioid prescriptions immediately after leaving the hospital go on to have chronic opioid use. Until our study, however, little was known about how and if those patients were being introduced to the opioids while in the hospital.

My colleagues and I reviewed the electronic health records of 191,249 hospital admissions of patients who had not been prescribed opioids in the prior year and were admitted to a community or academic hospital in Pennsylvania between 2010 and 2014. Opioids were prescribed in 48% of the admissions, with those patients being given opioids for a little more than two-thirds of their hospital stay, on average.

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