The antidepressant Zoloft may help curb depression and related disorders after a traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
Zoloft, known chemically as sertraline, is in a widely prescribed class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat adults with major depressive disorder (MDD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and social anxiety disorder.
Traumatic brain injuries can change the way people feel or express emotions caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls emotions and behavior. Thus, it is not uncommon for someone who has suffered a from a serious head blow to develop depression and other emotional problems.
Researchers set out to determine whether the common antidepressant could be effective at treating TBI-induced depression. The placebo-controlled trial, conducted by researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, involved 94 patients ages 18 to 85 who were hospitalized for mild, moderate or severe TBI. Forty-six of the patients received a placebo and 48 received sertraline. Patients were followed up with after 24 weeks. A total of 79 patients from the two groups completed the study.
Researchers found that sertraline appeared to be effective at preventing the onset of depressive disorders following TBI in the patients studied. However, researchers added that more studies should be done to determine whether the same results can be seen in larger samples of patients.