Daniella Colodro (2003) Anti-Depressant Medication and Psychoanalysis: A Survey

The aim of this study is to shed light on the effects of anti-depressant medication on psychoanalytic treatment. Using a survey methodology I describe and analyze the experience of sixty-two psychoanalysts and/or psychoanalytic psychotherapists from twenty-four different training schools who have treated patients under the influence of anti-depressant medication. Analysts were contacted by email and the survey was posted online.

To answer the questionnaire, analysts/therapists were required to have a case in which antidepressant medication was prescribed after the initiation of the psychoanalytical treatment.

The survey is a self-report questionnaire consisting of twenty-four questions. Some of the items were designed to capture analysts’ descriptions of changes in the patient’s symptoms, motivation, expression of thoughts, expression of feelings and transference after the anti-depressant medication was introduced. Other questions were intended to explain the differential responses of the therapist in the study.

The results of the study show that in most cases, the analysts described changes in treatment after the introduction of the antidepressant either as innocuous or beneficial for the treatment.

The results show that there were important differences between analysts trained in Modern psychoanalytical schools and ones coming from IPA affiliated schools (who are mostly MDs). One of the differences was the description of changes in the patient’s motivation. Another difference is in the way both groups described what was going on in the patient’s life at the moment the anti-depressant medication was introduced.