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With the increased rate of scandals related to performance enhancement drugs, it is not a surprise that we’ve started to question medications that we don’t have a lot of information on. Antidepressants happen to fall into that category. People aren’t entirely sure if they can be considered as performance enhancers. They’re also not sure of the opposite either. This is why we’ve gathered more information on the subject enough to reach some conclusion.

So, if you’re a curious athlete or just an interested web surfer, read on to find out whether or not antidepressants can be athletic performance enhancers.

Positive Effects on Performance

First, we need to understand what can antidepressants do to improve athletic performance. To get this part out of the way, antidepressants don’t have a direct effect on an athlete’s performance; they work indirectly. Antidepressants basically boost a person’s mood which can allow them to exercise for prolonged periods with more motivation. SSRIs, one type of antidepressants, prevents cells from absorbing serotonin to keep the mood-boosting hormone’s effects there for longer. Meanwhile, exercise is known to boost the levels of that same hormone in the brain. Most tested cases have proved that there is a link between elevated hormone levels, the desire to exercise and athletic performance.

Negative Effects on Performance

If you have talked to anyone with experience when it comes to antidepressants; or if you happen to have taken them at some point, you’d know that they are notoriously known for their side effects. According to Addiction Treatment Services, while antidepressants help in boosting one’s mood in the short term, they can result in some negative side effects like suicidal thoughts, nausea, and increased anxiety. However, you must also keep in mind that these effects are not uniform for everyone. In other words, side effects vary from one person to the other. Some may face annoying side effects while others can go through the entire course of medicine without as much as a hiccup.


The only serious risk that can arise from using antidepressants is that by using them too much. Because they affect chemicals in the body, abusing them can result in chemical dependency. Meaning that an individual would require serotonin levels a lot higher than normal to maintain a neutral mood; much more a good one. This is only a result of heavy and uncontrolled usage, though. If you want to avoid such addiction-related problems, make sure you are monitored by a professional.

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Now that we have mentioned all of the data that we’ve gathered, it is time for a verdict. Antidepressants can, in fact, have a positive effect on an individual’s athletic performance; yet, not in a direct way. They can make an individual feel better which, in turn, can make them more motivated to work out. In doing so, athletes will definitely better themselves physically. It is worth keeping in mind, though, that the effects of antidepressants vary according to the person taking them. So, while positive effects are common, some may suffer from more side effects than positive effects. In which case, a change in the type of antidepressant may be required.

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