Anti-anxiety medication is infecting our water and making fish moody

Before a medication can be produced and distributed by to humans it must go through numerous clinical trials on animals and humans. However little interest has been paid to how medications and drugs can impact ecosystems and the food chain.

Researchers at the Umeå University in Sweden have published their findings that anti-anxiety drugs that do not get broken down by the body are making their way into water and are changing the behaviour of fish.

The team of researchers tested the water that was down stream of sewage treatment plants, they reported that the fish in the water where traces of anti-anxiety drug Oxazepam were found behaviour and foraging rate of the wild perch was abnormal.

Perch fish are known to be shy and hunt in schools to maximise their chances of survival. However the fish that were found in water polluted with Oxazepam were reported to be bolder leaving the safety of the school to forage alone and ate at a greater rate.

The findings from this research is concerning as it could indicate one way in which the leakage of medications into water could have a significant impact on the composition of species in the water which could eventually lead to unexpected ecological and evolutionary consequences.

This research adds to the support of non-toxic means of addressing anxiety. Mindfulness meditation, changes in diet and the inclusion of exercise such as yoga could all be tried before the prescription of medication in order to limit the harmful effect on the environment and the health and wellbeing on the individual.

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