Driving performance and neurocognitive skills of long‐term users of sedating antidepressants

Nick van der Sluiszen, Annemiek Vermeeren, Joke H van Dijken, Aurora J A E van de Loo, Janet L Veldstra, Dick de Waard, Joris C Verster, Karel A Brookhuis, Johannes G. Ramaekers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)


Objective: To assess driving performance and neurocognitive skills of long‐term users of sedating antidepressants, in comparison to healthy controls. Methods: Thirty‐eight long‐term (>6 months) users of amitriptyline (n = 13) and mirtazapine (n = 25) were compared to 65 healthy controls. Driving performance was assessed using a 1‐h standardised highway driving test in actual traffic, with road‐tracking error (standard deviation of lateral position [SDLP]) being the primary measure. Secondary measures included neurocognitive tasks related to driving. Performance differences between groups were compared to those of blood alcohol concentrations of 0.5 mg/ml to determine clinical relevance. Results: Compared to controls, mean increase in SDLP of all antidepressant users was not significant, nor clinically relevant (+0.75 cm, 95% CI: - 0.83 cm; +2.33 cm). However, users treated less than 3 years (n = 20) did show a significant and clinically relevant increase in SDLP (+2.05 cm). No significant effects were observed on neurocognitive tasks for any user group, although large individual differences were present. Most results from neurocognitive tests were inconclusive, while a few parameters confirmed non‐inferiority for users treated longer than 3 years. Conclusion: The impairing effects of antidepressant treatment on driving performance and neurocognition mitigate over time following long‐term use of 3 years.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2762
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Psychopharmacology-Clinical and Experimental
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Antidepressants
  • Driving performance
  • Neurocognition
  • On-the-road driving
  • long-term use
  • neurocognition
  • ROAD
  • RISK
  • antidepressants
  • driving performance
  • on-the-road driving
  • PAIN

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