Antidepressants and IQ?

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  • Thread starter lewdawgdude
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  • #1
Hi. I created this account to ask this question. This seems like the type of community whose opinion I'd value. Basically, I'm a 19 year old math major at what most would consider a very good university. I'm definitely very smart, but as of a year or two ago have been having emotional problems. I basically have anxiety that is not bad, and I've avoided all medicine. It may be so bad that I need it now. Most of the time I'm fine, so it seems a mild antidepressant would be a good choice - just to keep my chemicals healthy to the point where my anxiety doesn't get too bad.

Anyway here is the question. Would an antidepressant (SSRI) lower your IQ in any sort of way? Ignoring the fact it would mostly help in situation were your emotions are hurting your intelligence. Basically, I mean if someone who wasn't depressed took an would his IQ be affected? It definitely seems like some psychiatric medicine could, but maybe not antidepressants. Does anyone have any knowledge that could help? Also if anyone has any personal experiences with the medication that would be of greatest help, and if you could inbox me(so its private), that would be much appreciated.

Thanks!

T
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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I know plenty of people on SSRIs. It hasn't seemed to affect their mind in the way of IQs. They are just as smart, but maybe more focused and things don't bother them as much. Of course, drugs won't solve your problems 100%. Personal experience... I was told by my doc to either take the medicine or try just exercising. It seems to help my focus and I still have yet to be put on anything.
 
  • #3
DaveC426913
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I cannot offer advice. All I can do is recount my own experiences.

I was concerned that my SSRI was dulling my ability to program. I used to describe it as "every day is a new day", as in, I would wake up in the morning and have to remember all over again the things I was thinking about the night before. If they happened to be solving a problem, I was worried that this was harming my ability.

I decided to go off it. Slowly. I found that my concentration got MUCH worse. So much so, I could not do my job. Literally, my concentration ground to a hlat and I had to take a couple of weeks off. Now I'm back on the SSRI, and will be on it for the rest of my life. No two ways about it. I am dependent on it.

Moral of the story?

If I could go back and give myself a piece of advice, I would go back tell myself DO NOT START TAKING AN SSRI!
 
  • #4
Evo
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SSRI's do not lower IQ, if anything, most people say that they function much better now. It's different for everyone. I was on an SSRI for a few years and decided it was making me "too calm", so I stopped it cold turkey with no side efects. (do not do this, as I've read it causes many people side effects, consult your doctor before you do anything).

As has been said, we cannot diagnose you, you should see a doctor about your symptoms. if you are clinically depressed, there are many types of anti-depressants that are not SSRIs, if you do not wish to try one.
 
  • #5
antidepressants have always boosted my IQ and self confidence.
I love antidepressants.
 
  • #6
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To the OP: No, it would not. Antidepressants have been tested for I-don't-know-how-long, and statistically significant differences in intelligence would've been something that would've been known by now. Given that I couldn't find anything about it in any paper - and the one paper I found about antidepressants and IQ was about pregnant women, and no statistical differences in IQ were found between the children of women on antidepressants and the children of women who didn't use any - feel free to assume that there is no such link. :smile:

Also, as Evo has already pointed out, if you consider that the idea behind antidepressants is that they make you feel *better*, it is much more likely that you are going to function better because of them. Thus, it may even seem (although this obviously depends on how much your problems have affected your performance) as if your IQ has raised a few points.

If I could go back and give myself a piece of advice, I would go back tell myself DO NOT START TAKING AN SSRI!
I obviously don't know about any (other) side-effects you may have experienced, but have you considered trying to get a Ritalin or Adderall prescription? This might help you concentrate, and if lack of concentration is the only reason you're currently using SSRIs, you may experience fewer side-effects (again, presuming you're experiencing any side-effects right now; if not, well, ignore what I just said :wink:).
 
  • #7
Wow, thanks for the helpful responses. I guess I've had a distorted view. I thought most psychiatric medicine were quick fixes that masked problems, drugged you out, or made you a zombie etc. Perhaps with SSRI's this isn't the case at all. This all seems a little too good to be true. I'm always a little paranoid there are long term affects that are unknown or well hidden. Anyway most of what I'm hearing suggests they are good to assist in difficult times in life :smile: .
 
  • #8
DaveC426913
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...but have you considered trying to get a Ritalin or Adderall prescription? ...
I have tried several substitutes, all with disastrous results.
 
  • #9
DaveC426913
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Anyway most of what I'm hearing suggests they are good to assist in difficult times in life :smile: .
I put my hand up to once again point out my strong opinion that they are a bad thing. For me, it is a road I went down from which I will never be able to return.

I wish I had recognized and dealt with the underlying problems directly, instead of medicating them, but I didn't know that at the time. (In retrospect, it was really life-stress that drove me to seek help. Counselling would have been the better solution.)

So, maybe I can't reach back into my own past and give myself some wisdom, but I suppose the next best thing is to pay it forward to someone for whom it's not too late.

Anyway, we really shouldn't be offering medical advice. I just couldn't help sharing my story as a cautionary tale.
 
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  • #10
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I thought most psychiatric medicine were quick fixes that masked problems
That *is* actually something to consider. While meds can certainly help you, it is obviously preferable to resolve the issues directly, if possible. As Dave pointed out, there *are* (or at least: can be) drawbacks to psychiatric medicine. However, I personally think it's totally reasonable to want to use meds either to make it easier to deal with the underlying problem, or because it's pretty much impossible to deal with the problem directly to begin with (as can be the case if you're having a brain anomaly, for example).
 
  • #11
So, maybe I can't reach back into my own past and give myself some wisdom, but I suppose the next best thing is to pay it forward to someone for whom it's not too late.
Thanks. To my understanding you could not successfully quit it when you felt you were ready to? That is definitely something to consider. Was there anything wrong with it while you were on it?
 
  • #12
DaveC426913
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Thanks. To my understanding you could not successfully quit it when you felt you were ready to?
Correct. And I have recently accepted that I never will. (I just finished my very best attempt. Did absolutely everything right. And had the meltdown anyway.)


That is definitely something to consider. Was there anything wrong with it while you were on it?
Exactly one-and-a-half-things:
1] Did a number on my libido.
.5] I thought it was making it difficult to concentrate. As a programmer, I need a sharp analytical mind with all cylinders firing. Turns out, being off the meds is way worse. I'm back on now, and really pleased with my ability to do my job.
 
  • #13
That *is* actually something to consider. While meds can certainly help you, it is obviously preferable to resolve the issues directly, if possible. As Dave pointed out, there *are* (or at least: can be) drawbacks to psychiatric medicine. However, I personally think it's totally reasonable to want to use meds either to make it easier to deal with the underlying problem, or because it's pretty much impossible to deal with the problem directly to begin with (as can be the case if you're having a brain anomaly, for example).
I definitely agree that addressing the issue directly is the best way to go. I've put the meds off for long and I'm too the point where I should be strongly considering them, in my opinion.
 
  • #14
dpa
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hi,
i was on ssri medication too.
I had that for 3/4 months and stopped coz i felt ok. Sometimes when i feel not ok. I take without consulting or lets say irregularly.
Will that be bad?
 
  • #15
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hi,
i was on ssri medication too.
I had that for 3/4 months and stopped coz i felt ok. Sometimes when i feel not ok. I take without consulting or lets say irregularly.
Will that be bad?
There are, of course, different classes of antidepressant medication. However, as long as you stick to the meds you've been using earlier (I presume without any problems), you will most likely be fine. Should you experience side-effects anyway, you should of course see a doctor.

A free tip, though: it can take up to three (or sometimes even more) weeks for SSRIs to become effective. If you're the kind of person who regularly has relatively small periods of depression, it would most likely be more effective to keep using your meds even when not depressed.
 
  • #16
I noticed this thread - and I wanted to mention that using anti-depressants will likely reduce your ability to be critical. There are different ones, of course, and you may wish to try to find one that does that less than others.

It seems that that is part of how they "work". As in critical thinking can be turned on one's self and everything in general. If a programmer, mathematician, artist could just keep one's critical focus on the problem at hand - it might be one thing - but that is often not the case.

In my case I have been able to go ahead and be more productive with anti-depressants - because some of the critical thinking was keeping me from pursuing a career in higher education. While I can and do paint more than ever - I think a definite side effect is being less critical. One thing artists do, for instance, is to "Critique" other art works. While I can do that - I feel that I am less sharp - but I am sharp enough.

There can be trade-offs. I think the gains outweigh the problems.
 
  • #17
DaveC426913
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paintperson describes very well my experience too. One of the reasons I went on SSRIs was because of obsessive thoughts (not nasty stuff, just stressors I was unable to let go). The positive side of obsessive thoughts is problem-solving. So yeah, as paintperson says, it's a trade-off of what constitutes a liveable life.
 
  • #18
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I noticed this thread - and I wanted to mention that using anti-depressants will likely reduce your ability to be critical. There are different ones, of course, and you may wish to try to find one that does that less than others.
I reject the use of 'likely' in your premise. It's quite possible that it does this for some people, of course - you and Dave being two of them. I, on the other hand, found that I actually became *better* at critical thinking (although I was, thankfully, less emotionally involved) under the influence of an antidepressant (more specifically, an SSRI - although for me it's recently in combination with lithium, since I'm bipolar). Unless someone can cite a source that points one way or the other, it's hard to say which (if any) is *likely* to happen: all we're doing is throwing around hypothetical proof.
 
  • #19
I was on SSRIs for a few months, I noticed no difference at all.
I still feel as bipolar as I did before, after and during the treatment.
The knowledge that even the medication doesn't do anything sure doesn't help with the feelings of hopelessness -.-

To the OP, I'd say that if it's just anxiety you'd be better of with a benzodiazepine. As far as I know those deal with anxiety better than SSRIs (assuming it's not constant anxiety).
That being said, if you feel like me when I'm having a depressive episode you won't be able to study at all. So I guess you should consider it then.

Edit;
What I'm trying to say is that I don't really know since they did nothing for me
 
  • #20
To be specific - the two antidepressants I have used are Prozac (which is an SSRI) and Effexor / Venlafaxine (which is an SNRI)

I stopped using Prozac mostly because it did not allow enough critical thinking. I was working at a design job at the time and I needed to be sharper.

I think that Effexor is better than Prozac for thinking critically - but if there are ways to reduce your anxiety without medication - that is all the better. Yoga, meditation, exercise, vitamin B12, etc. But sometimes people NEED medication and so that is that.

It is important to understand the tradeoffs - especially for people where high levels of critical thinking is an important part of their jobs. On the other hand - with antidepressants - there may be other job opportunities you would not have considered. Teaching and/or working more closely with other people, for instance.
 
  • #21
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I was on SSRIs for a few months, I noticed no difference at all.
I still feel as bipolar as I did before, after and during the treatment.
The knowledge that even the medication doesn't do anything sure doesn't help with the feelings of hopelessness -.-
Do not yet despair! There are other SSRIs and even other classes of antidepressants, too, and you should probably talk to your doctor about them. I've done some research, and bipolar is well-known for being a rather hard-to-treat condition. It can often take some 'experimentation' (supervised by an experienced psychiatrist is obviously preferable) with medication to find a good match that works for you.

To the OP, I'd say that if it's just anxiety you'd be better of with a benzodiazepine. As far as I know those deal with anxiety better than SSRIs (assuming it's not constant anxiety).
That being said, if you feel like me when I'm having a depressive episode you won't be able to study at all. So I guess you should consider it then.
SSRIs work reasonably well against anxiety for most people, and its advisable to use those first. Benzodiazepines are most effective, but they're best used only for short periods of time, because they're much more physically addictive. Benzos also have much more significant long-term side effects.

My advice: using benzodiazepines for only a short period of time is fine, but they should preferably only be used consistently if you've tried every other method (excluding a few of the more dangerous meds, of course).
 
  • #22
And another thing - I know many people who are super-critical (such as certain family members) who would be Soooooo much better off with some kind of anti-depressant - but they will not consider taking them.

Some people who could benefit from them are able to function without them - but live rather miserable lives. They think it is more noble or something to suffer.

On the other hand, I have a daughter who really cannot function without them - I decided to try Effexor when I saw how much better she was with taking it. Plus I had gotten rather seriously depressed - so it made sense for me. I've been taking it for five years.
 
  • #23
Do not yet despair! There are other SSRIs and even other classes of antidepressants, too, and you should probably talk to your doctor about them. I've done some research, and bipolar is well-known for being a rather hard-to-treat condition. It can often take some 'experimentation' (supervised by an experienced psychiatrist is obviously preferable) with medication to find a good match that works for you.
I might have to do that then. Thing is, I only recently tried to see a doctor to get some help, I felt like I needed the help urgently - I still do - so I got an appointment with whoever I could, asap. I ended up getting a locum who told me, in more words, to 'buck myself up' or to start running (which I already do). So I don't know how it'd look if I tried to get an appoinement with my normal GP, which could probably take ~2 weeks this soon after..
I guess I'll wait a week or two.

Thanks for the heads up though, I just thought that all the SSRIs were pretty much the same and that they were the only normally prescribed medications, you've given me hope buddy!
 
  • #24
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I might have to do that then. Thing is, I only recently tried to see a doctor to get some help, I felt like I needed the help urgently - I still do - so I got an appointment with whoever I could, asap. I ended up getting a locum who told me, in more words, to 'buck myself up' or to start running (which I already do). So I don't know how it'd look if I tried to get an appoinement with my normal GP, which could probably take ~2 weeks this soon after..
I guess I'll wait a week or two.
It sounds like your locum was an idiot, or at least a 'very uninformed person'. Go see your GP. He can probably tell you more, or point you to a psychiatrist. If that fails, you can always start looking for a good psychiatrist yourself. Also, to give you some advice I've been given as well: feel free to look around and see if you can find a psychiatrist you genuinely feel like talking to. You'll probably need to see him/her for changes to your medication now and then, and this works best if it's someone you can genuinely have a good conversation with.

Thanks for the heads up though, I just thought that all the SSRIs were pretty much the same and that they were the only normally prescribed medications, you've given me hope buddy!
You're welcome. :smile:

EDIT: Ah, found it! This may also be useful. You don't need to read it all, but it's a good reference.
 
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  • #25
It sounds like your locum was an idiot, or at least a 'very uninformed person'. Go see your GP. He can probably tell you more, or point you to a psychiatrist. If that fails, you can always start looking for a good psychiatrist yourself. Also, to give you some advice I've been given as well: feel free to look around and see if you can find a psychiatrist you genuinely feel like talking to. You'll probably need to see him/her for changes to your medication now and then, and this works best if it's someone you can genuinely have a good conversation with.
I at one point asked to be refered to someone and got refered to a 'psychiatric nurse' which really didn't go too well, they were the kind of person that, upon finding out you study physics, feels the need to tell you about how they could never do maths. Not to sound trumped up or anything but I really can't respect someone's advice if they genuinely struggled with highschool maths. So that didn't go too well and I called it off. Before that I was seeing someone else, I can't remember if it was another psychiatric nurse or a psychiatrist or what not but that also didn't go too well. I could talk to them but I can also talk to my wall which is what it felt like. Every reply from them was along the lines of 'and how does that make you feel'. Again, that didn't go to well either and I had to get the bus to see this person which really made me feel like I was wasting what little money I had.
I'm enthused by your responce, I'll make an appointment with my GP once I get back in from the shops.
Thank you very much Hobin
 

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