Paroxetine, a selective serotonine recapture inhibitor (SSRI), is an antidepressant used since 1995. Its potential adverse effects have not been divulgated at that time and they were debated only in 2007. In the present study, we examined its effects on ants. This drug impacted their food intake and general activity. The ants became fairly excited, moved sinuously and erratically, presented abnormal trembling, and stayed motionless from time to time. Paroxetine also reduced the ants’ orientation ability and their trail-following behavior. It reduced their tactile perception, brood-caring behavior, cognition and the ability of escaping from an enclosure. Under this drug diet, the ants had a larger audacity, but became aggressive against nestmates. Their middle- and long-term memory was drastically reduced, though their short-term memory stayed intact. The ants showed adaptation to some effects of paroxetine, but not to all of them (e.g. not to those affecting their cognitive abilities and their social behavior). They became somewhat habituated to the only favorable effect of the drug, the slight audacity increase. After paroxetine consumption was stopped, the effects of the drug, studied through the ants’ aggressiveness, decreased rapidly during the first few hours, and then slowly vanished in 50-60 hours. Most of the effects observed in the ants agree with those described in humans nowadays. In the present study, besides precisely quantifying some effects, we relate other ones that may exist in humans. We conclude that paroxetine should be cautiously used, in small amounts, for very short time periods and under medical supervision.
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