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Antidepressants May Curb Urge to Gamble

12 June 2001

NEW YORK –- June 12, 2001 –- As reported by the New York Times: "Compulsive gamblers may soon be betting on a new treatment for their addiction -- antidepressant medication.

"Thirteen of 15 compulsive gamblers who took the antidepressant Celexa in a Brown University study reported they gambled less and had fewer urges to gamble.

"`At the start of the study, the gamblers were averaging almost $1,900 in gambling losses in the two weeks prior to the initial assessment. At our last follow-up, that was down to $145 in the past two weeks,' says one of the study's authors, Robert Breen, associate director of the Rhode Island Gambling Treatment Program at Rhode Island Hospital, which is affiliated with Brown University.

"…The patients were given Celexa, an antidepressant in a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and were asked to report to the researchers every two weeks over three months.

"…Several participants reported sexual side effects, such as impotence and the inability to achieve orgasm, Breen says.

"By the end of the study, 13 of the 15 subjects (87 percent) reported spending less money and fewer days gambling. They also reported fewer problems with gambling urges.

"Breen says he's not sure how Celexa works for compulsive gambling; however he says other SSRIs have helped control disorders such as compulsive shopping and kleptomania…"

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