, Volume 188, Issue 1, pp 84–91 | Cite as

Driving impairment in depressed patients receiving long-term antidepressant treatment

  • Marleen WingenEmail author
  • Johannes G. Ramaekers
  • Jeroen A. J. Schmitt
Original Investigation



Depression is a common mental disorder with cognitive deficits, but little information is available on the effects of antidepressant treatment on driving performance in depressed patients.


Assessing actual driving performance and cognition of depressed patients receiving long-term antidepressant treatment.

Materials and methods

Performance was assessed in depressed patients receiving selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or serotonin and noradrenalin reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) treatment for 6–52 weeks and in matched healthy controls by means of two standardised on-the-road driving tests and laboratory tests of cognition.


Data showed poorer driving performance as indicated by a higher standard deviation of lateral position or ‘weaving motion’ in medicated patients relative to controls. Time to speed adaptation and critical flicker fusion threshold were also impaired in medicated patients. The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores in medicated patients were significantly higher as compared to that of controls. No other significant results between the two groups were demonstrated on the variables of the driving tests and laboratory tests of cognition.


The depressed patients receiving long-term treatment with SSRI- and SNRI-type antidepressants show impaired driving performance. This impairment in driving performance can probably be attributed to residual depressive symptoms instead of the antidepressant treatment.


Antidepressants Cognition Depression Driving performance 



The authors are thankful to Dr. Debije, Dr. Geeraerts, Dr. Meijer, Dr. Havermans, Dr. Peeters and Dr. Van Boxtel for recruiting and selecting the patients and to Marije Meeuwissen, Nadine Kessen, Michiel Schraven, Irma Brauers and Henk Brauers for their work during data collection. This study was conducted as a part of the IMMORTAL project which was funded by the EU 5th Framework Programme ( Additional financial support was received from the Hersenstichting Nederland.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marleen Wingen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Johannes G. Ramaekers
    • 1
  • Jeroen A. J. Schmitt
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Experimental Psychopharmacology Unit, Faculty of Psychology, Brain and Behaviour InstituteUniversity of MaastrichtMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Nestle Research CentreLausanneSwitzerland

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