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SSRI Effects on Psychomotor Performance: Assessment of Citalopram and Escitalopram on Normal Subjects

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Journal article

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Introduction Standard aeromedical doctrine dictates that aircrew receiving treatment for depression are grounded during treatment and follow-up observation, generally amounting to at least 1 yr. The Canadian Forces has initiated a program to return selected aircrew being treated for depression to restricted flying duties once stabilized on an approved antidepressant with resolution of depression. The currently approved medications are sertraline a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and bupropion noradrenaline and dopamine reuptake inhibitor. This study was undertaken to determine whether or not citalopram or escitalopram affect psychomotor performance. Method In a double-blind crossover protocol with counter-balanced treatment order, 24 normal volunteer subjects 14 men and 10 women were assessed for psychomotor performance during placebo, citalopram 40 mg, and escitalopram 20 mg treatment. Each treatment arm lasted 2 wk, involving a daily morning ingestion of one capsule. There was a 1-wk washout period between medication courses. Subjects completed a drug side-effect questionnaire and were tested on three psychomotor test batteries once per week. Results Neither citalopram nor escitalopram affected serial reaction time, logical reasoning, serial subtraction, multitask, or MacWorth clock task performance. Conclusions While we found some of the expected side effects due to citalopram and escitalopram, there was no impact on psychomotor performance. These findings support the possibility of using citalopram and escitalopram for returning aircrew to restricted flight duties non-tactical flying under close observation as a maintenance treatment after fu ll resolution of depression.

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  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Medicine and Medical Research
  • Pharmacology

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