Sertraline (Zoloft) is often the first choice treatment for OCD. However, new research suggests that Sertraline affects the brains of depressed and non-depressed people differently, and may lead to opposite structural changes in the brain. This is important because Sertraline is prescribed for a wide variety of conditions, ranging from bulimia to hot flashed to sexual dysfunction, as well as for patients who suffer from OCD but are not depressed.
In a study comparing the effects of Sertraline on the brain of depressed and non-depressed primates, researchers at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that, in depressed primates, Sertraline use was associated with an increase in size of the anterior cingulate cortex over the courser of treatment, while a decrease in size of this brain region was observed in non-depressed subjects. This region of the brain is important and interconnected with areas involving memory, learning, spatial navigation, emotion and motivation.
This study has implications for the widespread use of Sertraline and calls for further study to address the effects of Sertraline in non-depressed individuals. It should be noted that the observation of these changes was not associated with observable negative effects in the primate subjects, and, as with any study, results should be understood within the broad scientific context that characterizes scientific inquiry. An exploratory study, it is possible that future human studies of this nature will fail to find the same effect in humans, or that such an effect is meaningful in terms of associated effects.
For more information on this study, see http://psychcentral.com/news/2015/09/07/monkey-study-finds-zoloft-may-alter-brain/91909.html