Antidepressant drugs and memory: insights from animal studies

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2008 Apr;18(4):235-48. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2007.07.001. Epub 2007 Aug 29.


This is a selective review of the literature concerning the effects of antidepressant drugs on animal memory, which was performed with the aid of the PubMed database. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors tend to either have no effect on memory or result in its improvement. Studies with cyclic antidepressants have reported no effect or, more often, memory impairments. Pre-training administration of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) has been shown to have either no effect on memory or undermine it (with some isolated exceptions, in which improvements have been recorded), while post-training administration of SSRIs has been demonstrated to improve memory or have no effect. A small group formed by the remaining antidepressants has been shown to improve memory, with the exception of trazodone, which impairs memory. These findings are discussed in the light of knowledge regarding the actions of antidepressants on several neurotransmission systems. The possibility that the effects of antidepressants on memory are the core of the therapeutic effects of these drugs is also considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / adverse effects
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Rats
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / adverse effects


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors