Does fluvoxamine cause emotional blunting? (+3 solutions)

In this article, we will talk about whether emotional blunting is caused by fluvoxamine. We will also discuss research findings, emotional adverse effects linked to fluvoxamine, and ways to manage these side effects.

Does fluvoxamine cause emotional blunting?

Yes, fluvoxamine can cause emotional blunting. Emotional blunting is a common side effect reported by patients who are taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. (1)

Emotional blunting is characterised by a decreased intensity in the emotional response. An emotionally blunt person would not be able to respond to feelings of anger, sadness, happiness, and fear like a normal individual would.  

Fluvoxamine is an antidepressant which is used for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Antidepressants have side effects including emotional blunting, which might affect a lot of people. While antidepressants aid in the treatment of depression, they can also cause patients to feel emotionally detached. This can negatively impact patient’s social lives. (2)

Fluvoxamine belongs to the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They increase the level of serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for the regulation of mood, cognition, memory, and many other physiological responses. (3)

What does the research suggest?

According to research studies, fluvoxamine may cause emotional blunting. Emotional blunting has been reported as a common side effect of SSRIs. It has been one of the reasons for stopping fluvoxamine treatment by many patients. It is important to note that not all individuals experience emotional blunting, as it can vary from patient to patient.

Some SSRI users, including those using fluvoxamine, may notice a reduction in the intensity of their emotions, both happy and sad. This may show up as a decreased capacity to feel highs and lows or as an emotional numbness.

One research study suggests that SSRIs, including fluvoxamine, may alter frontal lobe activity in the brain because of their serotonergic effects. The frontal lobe is closely linked to emotional responses in humans, as it has the largest density of serotonergic axons and 5-HT receptors compared to other cortical regions. (2)

A study was conducted involving people who were romantically together. The results showed that long-term use of SSRIs in men resulted in a reduction in the feeling of love for their partners. Fifteen depressed patients who were being treated with SSRIs while having sexual dysfunctions experienced a high percentage of emotional blunting (80%). (4)

Certain brain regions, like the anterior cingulate and the amygdala, that are involved in processing emotions may become less functional when using SSRIs, according to some writers. More research also needs to be conducted on how serotonin is responsible for ‘reinforcement learning’. (4)

Presently, most of the theories regarding how antidepressants cause emotional blunting in depressed patients revolve around SSRIs and serotonin neurotransmitters. However, emotional blunting is also characterised as an adverse event associated with other antidepressants. More research needs to be done to find the mechanism behind emotional blunting in people who are taking fluvoxamine as an antidepressant specifically. (2)

Duration of emotional blunting

Some individuals may experience emotional blunting for a few days whereas some may experience it for several weeks. Emotional blunting and its intensity impact everybody differently due to individual factors and physiological responses. 

What emotional side effects are associated with fluvoxamine?

Fluvoxamine can affect moods and emotions. It is important to note that the side effects experienced by individuals vary on a case-by-case basis. Some of the potential side effects that are associated with fluvoxamine intake include:

  • Emotional blunting: One of the side effects reported by patients who are taking SSRIs, including fluvoxamine, is emotional blunting. It results in decreased feelings, such as reduced intensity of the feelings of love, joy, rage, and fear. The influence could be on both positive and negative feelings.


  • Mood changes: Fluvoxamine works by increasing the levels of serotonin which influences mood. Therefore, individuals may experience positive or negative mood changes on a case-by-case basis.


  • Energy levels: Fluvoxamine affects the brain’s enzymes involved in energy metabolism. It is responsible for altering energy levels and results in increased energy in some patients, whereas it has a soothing effect in others. (5)


  • Anxiety or nervousness: Initially, fluvoxamine, like other SSRIs, can cause increased anxiety and nervousness before the full effect of the drug is reached.


  • Sexual dysfunction: Fluvoxamine can lead to decreased libido, difficulty keeping an erection, and delayed orgasm. This can affect the individual psychologically.

What to do if the emotional side effects persist?

It’s important to take any emotional side effects caused by fluvoxamine seriously. Your healthcare practitioner should be notified, as this will help them manage your current condition appropriately.

These emotional side effects could potentially be brought on by other mental diseases instead of being associated with fluvoxamine. Antidepressants should never be stopped abruptly, as there is a risk of withdrawal. Therefore, consultation with a healthcare provider is necessary.

For stopping fluvoxamine, your doctor might reduce the dose of fluvoxamine gradually over a few weeks or replace it with another antidepressant that is more suitable for you based on your unique needs. It is crucial to remember that not every fluvoxamine user will experience similar emotional adverse effects. (2)

How should emotions be managed while taking fluvoxamine?

The positive news is that some lifestyle changes can help manage emotional blunting.

  • Healthy lifestyle: If you are feeling low, exercise will help you with mood elevation as it increases serotonin levels. Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle


  • Improved diet: You should abstain from the intake of alcohol and illicit drugs. These can lower the mood.


  • Alternative medication: You can inquire about your medication from your healthcare provider. If the symptoms are impacting your quality of life, you can share your concerns about a change of medication. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) can be considered as an alternative medication choice.


  • Additional medication: To counter the effects produced by fluvoxamine, other medications could be prescribed by your healthcare provider.

According to my research, SSRIs are responsible for emotional bluntness. No direct research study is present to showcase the association of fluvoxamine with emotional bluntness. Many researchers generalised the results by including the whole class of SSRIs, as they are responsible for changes in serotonin levels.

We know that fluvoxamine belongs to the class of SSRIs; therefore, it may cause emotional bluntness. It is important to stay positive if you are emotionally suppressed, maintain a healthy lifestyle and consult your doctor if the side effects are too much to handle and are impacting your quality of life.

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Langley, C, Armand, S, et al. Chronic escitalopram in healthy volunteers has specific effects on reinforcement sensitivity: A double-blind, placebo-controlled semi-randomised study. Neuropsychopharmacology; 23 Jan 2023; DOI: 10.1038/s41386-022-01523-x


Ma H, Cai M, Wang H. Emotional Blunting in Patients With Major Depressive Disorder: A Brief Non-systematic Review of Current Research. Front Psychiatry. 2021 Dec 14;12:792960. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.792960. PMID: 34970173; PMCID: PMC8712545.


Wilde MI, Plosker GL, Benfield P. Fluvoxamine. An updated review of its pharmacology, and therapeutic use in depressive illness. Drugs. 1993 Nov;46(5):895-924. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199346050-00008. PMID: 7507038.


Marazziti D, Mucci F, Tripodi B, Carbone MG, Muscarella A, Falaschi V, Baroni S. Emotional Blunting, Cognitive Impairment, Bone Fractures, and Bleeding as Possible Side Effects of Long-Term Use of SSRIs. Clin Neuropsychiatry. 2019 Apr;16(2):75-85. PMID: 34908941; PMCID: PMC8650205.


Ferreira GK, Cardoso MR, Jeremias IC, Gonçalves CL, Freitas KV, Antonini R, Scaini G, Rezin GT, Quevedo J, Streck EL. Fluvoxamine alters the activity of energy metabolism enzymes in the brain. Braz J Psychiatry. 2014 Sep;36(3):220-6. doi: 10.1590/1516-4446-2013-1202. Epub 2014 Mar 17. PMID: 24676049.

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