Did antidepressants cause the mortgage crisis?

Posted by: Tedstaff

In today’s beta issue of Tina Brown’s new web newspaper, the Daily Beast, is this surprising and well-reported essay by Adam Hanft: “Did Anti-Depressants Cause the Mortgage Crisis?” He writes:

What exactly would turn psychotropic drugs like Prozac and Paxil and Zoloft into a subplot in the subprime mess? It’s the biochemistry. Those drugs are SSRIs — selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors — and they spin their mood magic by elevating levels of serotonin in the brain. And serotonin is a neurotransmitter associated with behaviors that might contribute to the temptation of borrowing $501,000 on a $500,000 house.

When I asked Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist who studies brain chemistry, if my hypothesis passes the expert smell test, she replied: “I wouldn’t at all be surprised if people taking drugs that elevate their levels of serotonin — which blunt the emotions — make some dumb financial decisions. Our emotions evolved, at least in part, to help us monitor our actions.”

The implications are vast if millions are truly walking around with a compromised ability to assess risk and perceive threats.

Read this essay in the Daily Beast >>

Watch Helen Fisher’s TEDTalk to hear her thoughts about antidepressant abuse (starting at 18:18) and its harmful effect on our ability to love.

Comments (1)

  • Deonte Burn commented on Mar 27 2009

    As the economic stimulus package moves to the Senate, the drumbeat is growing louder for new provisions that directly address the housing crisis. Foreclosure prevention has been a hot topic since the housing bubble burst. The rate of foreclosure has gone up drastically, and a lot of people are wondering just how they can avoid it if they fall on hard times. Well, those that qualify can apply for aid through the stimulus package, but you have to prove that you qualify. You have to provide proof of financial hardship, and also that the mortgage payments, unsecured personal loans, or otherwise, have unreasonable rates. If so, you may qualify for loan modification, which can lower the interest rates or extend the terms of the loan, which may keep qualified persons out of foreclosure.