Serum level of venlafaxine is associated with better memory in psychotic disorders

Cognitive impairment is a core feature of psychosis spectrum disorders.


Antipsychotics have at best small positive effects on cognitive performance. There is a lack of knowledge regarding the effects of antidepressants on cognitive functioning in these disorders. In the present study cognitive performance was investigated in relation to serum levels of antidepressants in persons with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Serum concentrations of escitalopram, citalopram and venlafaxine plus O-desmethylvenlafaxine were measured in a total of 187 participants with bipolar disorder (N = 74) or schizophrenia spectrum disorders (N = 113), and analyzed in relation to neuropsychological tests performance of verbal learning, verbal memory, attention, working memory, executive functioning and processing speed. Analyses were performed using linear regression adjusting for a range of confounders.

There was a significant positive association between the serum level of venlafaxine plus O-desmethylvenlafaxine and verbal memory (immediate recall: Logical Memory Test immediate recall [p = 0.015], and long term delayed recall: Logical Memory Test delayed recall [p = 0.011]). No significant associations were seen between citalopram or escitalopram and verbal memory. There were no significant associations between the tested antidepressants and verbal learning, attention, working memory, executive functioning, or processing speed. Venlafaxine seem to be associated with better verbal memory in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This suggests a possible beneficial role of certain antidepressants on cognitive dysfunction, which may have clinical implications and provide insight into underlying pathophysiology. However, the current findings should be replicated in independent samples.

Schizophrenia Research, 2015, 169 (1–3), 386–392

Published Mar. 7, 2016 7:00 AM - Last modified May 11, 2017 9:41 AM