Improvement of social adaptation in depression with serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2010 Oct 5:6:647-55. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S13171.


Depression is a disabling condition resulting in significant impairment in social functioning, involving the patient's family, friends, work colleagues, and society at large. Although both psychologic and pharmacologic treatments generally improve many depressive symptoms, they do not always result in significant improvement in social functioning. The importance of recovery of social functioning in depressed patients is now widely appreciated, and studies are beginning to include it in evaluations of therapeutic efficacy. Among the various social adjustment evaluation rating scales, the Social Adaptation Self-Evaluation Scale, a social motivation and behavior scale, has been found to be simple to use and sensitive to change. Using this scale, the selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, reboxetine, has been shown to be significantly more effective in improving social functioning than the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, fluoxetine. These findings are consistent with the notion that improvement in social adaptation involves functions depending primarily on noradrenergic neurotransmission. This hypothesis suggests that the serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, venlafaxine, duloxetine, and milnacipran, could be particularly helpful in improving social functioning. Preliminary studies with the serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors suggest that they significantly improve social functioning. Comparative studies with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors on the effects on social functioning should be encouraged.

Keywords: Social Adaptation Self-Evaluation Scale; depression; noradrenergic neurotransmission; serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors; social functioning.