As I spend a few days with my family over Presidents' Day week, I have had the opportunity to meet many interesting people. As I started my vacation, a couple waiting with me in the airport asked me a question about an article I had written on the effects of antidepressants. They were worried about how the drugs can affect emotions. Good question!
Many scientists are evaluating some of the potential side effects of these drugs, including the effects they have on emotions — especially love and romance. We know that persons taking drugs like Prozac or Paxil have a significant decline in their libido. But can these drugs diminish the feeling of LOVE?
In a recent study published in the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, results seemed to indicate that a lack of emotional sensitivity could be a secondary effect of these drugs. Many participants in the study reported a decreased ability to cry, get mad, or consider their partner's feeling.
But can love be measured? You bet! Studies by Dr. Helen Fisher have shown specific changes on MRI that clearly show the brain lighting up when study subjects are shown pictures of loved ones. These dopamine "fireworks" could potentially be erased by the effects of antidepressants.
Many critics would argue with the theory that depression itself is the culprit for the lack of emotions experienced by many patients. Certainly, that is true. It is also true that for many people, these drugs are lifesavers. Last year alone, physicians wrote more than 123 MILLION prescriptions for antidepressants.
So, as I always say, be aware of side effects, and always talk to your MD. And remember: this thing we call love needs to protected, always.
Note: Watch this space! We have had an unbelievable reaction to my idea for the PalmSmile — even the CDC weighed in. I am going to post responses tomorrow.
P.S. Don't forget to watch FOX News Channel. And please feel free to write to me at DRMANNY@FOXNEWS.COM and tell me what you think. Ask a question, share a thought, share a remedy — We'll try to answer all of your mail online or on the air.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.