Antidepressants' Effects on Driving Ability

January 1, 2007

The effects of antidepressants and other medications on a person's driving ability have been debated for some time. A recent German study by Dr Alexander Brunnauer and associates adds to the evidence that antidepressants impair driving.

The effects of antidepressants and other medications on a person's driving ability have been debated for some time. A recent German study by Dr Alexander Brunnauer and associates adds to the evidence that antidepressants impair driving. A naturalistic nonrandomized study, the results of which were published in the November 2006 issue of The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, tracked the driving of 100 patients who were taking SSRIs, mirtazapine (Remeron), or tricyclic antidepressants.

The researchers tracked patients' driving using the Computerized Act and React Testsystem and the Wiener Test system, which measure visual perception, reaction time, selective attention, vigilance, and stress tolerance. It was found that psychomotor performance was moderately impaired in 60% of the patients and severely impaired in 16%. Patients taking SSRIs and mirtazapine had better test performance than those who were taking tricyclics.

The researchers urged clinicians to stress to patients who are taking antidepressants the possible effects of their medication while driving.