Researchers have found a single high dose of a common antidepressant could help those who suffer with anxiety.
In a study at the University of Oxford, 42 healthy patients were given either citalopram, reboxetine or a placebo.
The researchers then measured the speed of their reaction to a picture featuring two faces – one with a neutral expression and the other looking fearful.
Dr Susannah Murphy, who led the study at the Psychopharmacology and Emotion Research Laboratory, found the drugs helped to reduce the patients anxiety on seeing the fearful facial expression.
She presented her findings at the Royal College of Psychiatrists' International Congress in Edinburgh.
The antidepressants could be used both in the short and long-term to enhance psychological therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, she told delegates at the International Congress.
"It's quite extraordinary that these changes take place so early. It really challenges us to think quite differently about the way antidepressants work. It's a different message for patients – as soon as you start taking the drugs it starts changing the way the brain works. It doesn't have to take weeks," she said.
"What about young adults and children? What is the cut off point or how will one consider prescriptions for these groups? Does it not worry one about easy way out with handing out antidepressants to young adults? Issues of misuse worries me" - Anne Majumdar, Swindon