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What are SSRI Antidepressants

What are SSRI Antidepressants

As the name suggests, SSRI antidepressants are used to treat depression, panic and anxiety disorders. Here is detailed information on its functions and side effects.
PsycholoGenie Staff
SSRI antidepressants interacts with other antidepressants, drugs, and medication. Therefore, make sure you tell your doctor about all the medication you are taking.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI), or Serotonin-Specific Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI), is a class of antidepressant drugs used to treat depression and other psychological disorders like anxiety and panic attacks. SSRI antidepressant drugs are one of the modern drugs to treat depression and panic disorders. Antidepressant drugs are commonly used along with psychotherapy to overcome depression.
How SSRI Antidepressants Work
The human brain contains certain chemicals, known as neurotransmitters, that are responsible for change of mood. Serotonin is one such neurotransmitter (chemical) that is believed to cause depression in human beings. Excess absorption or uptake of serotonin leads to depression. SSRI antidepressants reduce or inhibit the re-uptake of serotonin in the brain, which consequently improves a person's mood. One of the most important things to note is that antidepressants drugs are not meant to make sad people happy or to treat unhappiness in life. It is only used to treat depression as a psychological problem that characterizes the chronic state of inadequacy.
Here is the list of popular SSRIs:
  • Citalopram
  • Celexa
  • Escitalopram oxalate
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Paroxetine
  • Paxil
  • Fluoxetine
  • Sertraline
  • Prozac
The effect of these drugs vary from person to person. In some people, the effect might be positive while others may experience no effect at all. The degree of effectiveness also varies from one person to the other. It should be noted that it takes longer time for the drug to work effectively and, hence, the course lasts from 3 - 4 weeks to 5 - 6 months. Most of the antidepressant drugs are available only on doctor's prescription. It is advisable to inform the doctor about the immediate effects as well as the side effects of antidepressants.
Side Effects
Similar to other depression medications, SSRI antidepressant drugs also have their share of side effects. The severity of side effects varies from one person to another. The following are the common side effects:
  • Nausea
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Nervousness
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Skin rash
  • Restlessness
  • Increased sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased sexual desire
A large number of people taking SSRIs complain of weight gain. Although the exact relation between these antidepressants and weight gain is not known, it is one of the most common side effects of antidepressant drugs. People tend to overeat during depression, which may also result in weight gain. Secondly, it has been observed that the antidepressants meant for anxiety and depression tend to generate suicidal thoughts in people. This is a debatable issue but with some evidences to prove the claim. This feeling may again vary from one person to the other. However, it cannot be ignored and people taking these antidepressant medications should consult a doctor immediately if they experience agitation, extreme restlessness, or suicidal feelings.
Another debatable issue of SSRI antidepressants is that they are addictive. This is again disputable. One needs to be careful before taking them. Secondly, it is recommended not to stop these medications abruptly as it can have negative effects on the body. The dosage should be gradually reduced and then stopped, otherwise it can lead to SSRI discontinuation syndrome. Some people also tend to show certain withdrawal symptoms after stopping the use of these medications. Pregnant women should be specially careful about the use of these drugs as they can lead to birth defects in children.
One should note that antidepressant medications should only be taken in consultation with a doctor. If taken for proper reason, and under proper supervision, it can be effective. Take care!
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is purely for informative purposes, and should not be treated as a replacement for professional medical advice.