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Background: Abrupt cessation of therapy with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) is associated with a discontinuation syndrome, typified by numerous disabling symptoms including anxiety. Surprisingly little is known of the behavioural effect of SSRI discontinuation in animals. Aim: Here, the effect of SSRI discontinuation on anxiety-like behaviour was systematically investigated in mice. Methods: Experiments were based on a 3-arm experimental design comprising saline, continued SSRI and discontinued SSRI. Mice were assessed 2 days after SSRI discontinuation over a 5 day period using the elevated plus maze (EPM) and other anxiety tests. Results: An exploratory experiment found cessation of paroxetine (12 days) was associated with decreased open arm exploration and reduced total distance travelled, in male but not female mice. Follow-up studies confirmed a discontinuation effect on the EPM in male mice after paroxetine (12 days) and also citalopram (12 days). Mice receiving continued paroxetine (but not citalopram) also showed decreased open arm exploration but this was dissociable from effects of discontinuation. The discontinuation response to paroxetine did not strengthen after 28 days treatment but was absent after 7 days treatment. A discontinuation response was not decernable in other anxiety and fear-learning tests applied 3-5 days after treatment cessation. Finally, discontinuation effects on the EPM were typically associated with decreased locomotion on the test. However, separate locomotor testing implicated anxiety-provoked behavioural inhibition rather than a general reduction in motor activity. Conclusion: Overall, the current study provides evidence for a short-lasting behavioural discontinuation response to cessation of SSRI treatment in mice

Type

Journal article

Journal

Journal of Psychopharmacology

Publisher

SAGE Publications

Publication Date

26/04/2022

Addresses

Helen M Collins, University of Oxford, Department of Pharmacology, Mansfield Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 3QT, United Kingdom

Keywords

5-HT, SSRI, discontinuation, anxiety, paroxetine, citalopram