Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most frequently recommended antidepressants. They can relieve symptoms of moderate to severe depression, are relatively safe and usually cause less side effects than other types of antidepressants do.

SSRIs, a frequently prescribed kind of antidepressant, can assist you overcome depression. Discover how SSRIs enhance mood and what side effects they might cause.

Function

SSRIs alleviate depression by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is one of the chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that bring signals between brain cells. SSRIs block the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin in the brain, making more serotonin readily available. SSRIs are called selective due to the fact that they appear to mostly impact serotonin, not other neurotransmitters.

SSRIs also might be used to treat conditions besides depression, such as anxiety conditions.

SSRIs Approved to Treat Depression

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved these SSRIs to treat depression:

  • Citalopram (Celexa).
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro).
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac).
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva).
  • Sertraline (Zoloft).
  • Vilazodone (Viibryd).

Fluvoxamine, an SSRI that’s approved by the FDA to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, is sometimes used to treat depression.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors Side Effects

All SSRIs work in a similar way and usually can cause similar side effects, though some people may not experience any. Numerous side effects may disappear after the first couple of weeks of treatment, while others might lead you and your doctor to try a different drug. If you can’t endure one SSRI, you might have the ability to endure a various one, as SSRIs differ in chemical makeup.

Possible side effects of SSRIs might include, among others:

  • Dizziness and blurred vision.
  • Uneasiness, agitation or restlessness.
  • Sexual issues, such as minimized sexual desire or trouble reaching orgasm or failure to preserve an erection (erectile dysfunction).
  • Sleepiness.
  • Nausea.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Headache.
  • Sleeping disorders.

Taking your medication with food might lower the risk of nausea. Likewise, as long as your medication doesn’t keep you from sleeping, you can reduce the effect of nausea by taking it at bedtime.

Which antidepressant is best for you depends upon a variety of concerns, such as your symptoms and any other health conditions you might have. Ask your doctor and pharmacist about the most typical possible side effects for your particular SSRI and check out the patient medication guide that features the prescription.

Safety Issues

SSRIs are typically safe for many people. Nevertheless, in some situations they can cause issues. For example, high doses of citalopram may cause dangerous unusual heart rhythms, so dosages over 40 milligrams (mg) a day need to be avoided, inning accordance with the FDA and the producer. They likewise recommend a maximum dose of 20 mg for people over age 60.

Other issues to discuss with your doctor before you take an SSRI consist of:

  • Drug interactions. When taking an antidepressant, tell your doctor about any other prescription or over the counter medications, herbs or other supplements you’re taking. Some antidepressants can cause dangerous responses when combined with specific medications or natural supplements.
  • Serotonin syndrome. Hardly ever, an antidepressant can cause high levels of serotonin to accumulate in your body. Serotonin syndrome frequently happens when two medications that raise the level of serotonin are integrated. These include other antidepressants, certain pain or headache medications, and the organic supplement St. John’s wort. Symptoms and signs of serotonin syndrome consist of anxiety, agitation, sweating, confusion, tremors, restlessness, lack of coordination and a rapid heart rate. Look for instant medical attention if you have any of these signs or symptoms.
  • Antidepressants and pregnancy. Speak with your doctor about the risks and benefits of using specific antidepressants. Some antidepressants might harm your baby if you take them during pregnancy or while you’re breast-feeding. If you’re taking an antidepressant and you’re thinking about getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about the possible risks. Do not stop taking your medication without contacting your doctor first, as stopping may pose risks for you.

Suicide Risk and Antidepressants

Many antidepressants are generally safe, however the FDA requires that all antidepressants bring black box cautions, the strictest warnings for prescriptions. In many cases, children, teenagers and young people under 25 may have a boost in suicidal ideas or habits when taking antidepressants, specifically in the first couple of weeks after beginning or when the dosage is changed.

Anybody taking an antidepressant ought to be watched closely for worsening depression or unusual habits. If you or someone you understand has suicidal ideas when taking an antidepressant, immediately call your doctor or get emergency assistance.

Keep in mind that antidepressants are most likely to minimize suicide risk in the long run by improving state of mind.

Stopping Treatment with SSRIs

SSRIs aren’t thought about addictive. Nevertheless, stopping antidepressant treatment abruptly or missing numerous doses can cause withdrawal-like symptoms. This is sometimes called discontinuation syndrome. Deal with your doctor to slowly and safely reduce your dosage.

Withdrawal-like symptoms can consist of:

  • General feeling of uneasiness.
  • Nausea.
  • Dizziness.
  • Sleepiness.
  • Flu-like symptoms.

Finding the Right Antidepressant

People may respond in a different way to the same antidepressant. For example, a particular drug may work much better– or not also– for you than for another person. Or you may have more, or fewer, side effects from taking a particular antidepressant than another person does.

Acquired traits contribute in how antidepressants affect you. Sometimes, where available, results of unique blood tests might offer clues about how your body might react to a specific antidepressant. However, other variables besides genes can affect your reaction to medication.

When picking an antidepressant, your doctor takes into consideration your symptoms, any illness, other medications you take and what has worked for you in the past.

Normally, it may take numerous weeks or longer before an antidepressant is completely reliable and for preliminary side effects to relieve up. You may have to attempt numerous dose modifications or different antidepressants prior to you find the right one, but hang in there. With perseverance, you and your doctor can find a medication that works well for you.


Last modified: January 31, 2018

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