Aug
18
2008

Does depression or its treatment cause lousy driving?

Driving while down: Is it the mood or the treatment that's the problem?
Driving while down: Is it the mood or the treatment that's the problem?Courtesy Ben McLeod
A new study out of the University of North Dakota is showing a link between antidepressant use and impaired driving, at least in some cases. Research lead Dr. Holly J. Dannewitz and her colleagues presented their results at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in Boston.

In the study, 31 people with varying degrees of depression and treated with antidepressants were compared with 29 control group members who were unmedicated. Those using antidepressants were divided further into two groups: those having high levels of depression symptoms and those with lower levels. Those suffering from higher symptoms were treated with higher doses of antipressants. All three groups took part in a driving simulation and were scored for typical driving-based decisions, such as reacting to stop signs, traffic signals, brake lights, changing speed limits, animals, bicycles and other cars.

The more depressed participants scored much worse in the study than the other two groups. When the scores were totaled up, participants not on medication got 69 points, those on medication but with milder depression symptoms scored 65, and those with elevated symptoms scored 54.

"We already know that depression causes concentration problems," said Dr. Dannewitz. "And now it appears that people taking antidepressants who also have relatively higher depression scores fare significantly worse when attempting to perform a computerized simulation of driving."

Previous studies have already shown lower concentration abilities in depression sufferers, and manufacturers of antidepressant medication often warn against driving or using machinery while on the drugs. So, it's not clear whether the poor scores were caused by the increased medication use or by the more depressed mood. Dr. Dannewitz hopes to sort this out with further studies using clinically depressed patients who are not on anti-depressants.

"There is obviously more work to do on this. We need a much larger study, but there certainly seems to be some sort of link," Dannewitz said.

SOURCES and LINKS

Medicine News Today website story
MentalHealth.net story
Info on anti-depressants

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

tis-chick-s0-fly's picture
tis-chick-s0-fly says:

Yes, it really does cause people that is really stress or depress make them really lousy to drive. They just be really stuck that whatever they are doing, they don't really be paying attention to nothing just whatever they been thinking about.

posted on Fri, 10/24/2008 - 12:37pm
John Hayes's picture
John Hayes says:

I certainly think that depression can affect driving.
For one thing,concentration is difficult when one is depressed.
Regards
John Hayes

posted on Wed, 01/29/2014 - 9:09am

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