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Selective-Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of antidepressant drugs. They are primarily used to treat Clinical Depression, but also have a use in the treatment of General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, eating disorders and chronic pain. They have been found to be effective in treating premature ejaculation and pathological laughing and crying. SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant drug.


SSRIs are believed to alleviate depression by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that act as messengers in the brain. It is important for these ‘messengers’ to function properly. A mood disorder, such as an anxiety disorder or depression, can sometimes be explained by abnormalities in neurotransmitter activity. Research suggests that the neurotransmitter serotonin plays an important role in the regulation of mood. SSRIs are used to correct an imbalance of serotonin levels in the brain. Like other antidepressant reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs achieve this by blocking the ‘reuptake’ of serotonin. Reuptake is the absorption of neurotransmitters back into the part of the brain that released them. By blocking the reuptake process, SSRIs allow more serotonin to be available in the brain. Although the precise mechanism of action is not clear, it is thought that this increases the effect serotonin has on the brain. Serotonin can elevate mood and have a calming effect. SSRIs are believed to relieve depression and other mood disorders by increasing the effect of serotonin in the brain.

Similar Drugs

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors include:

  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Dapoxetine (Priligy)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro, Cipralex, Esertia)
  • Fluoxaetine (Prozac, Sarafem, Seronil, Seromex)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox, Fevarin, Faverin)
  • Indalpine (Upsteme)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Seroxat, Sereupin, Aropax)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Vilazodone (Viibryd)
  • Zimilidine (Zelmid)

Side Effects

SSRIs are believed to increase the likelihood of birth defects. Women who take Paxil during their early pregnancy are nearly two times more likely to give birth to a child with a birth defect than women who are taking other antidepressants. It is important to consult a doctor about switching to another antidepressant medication if you are considering getting pregnant. Though there are many different types of SSRIs, their side effects are similar.

Possible SSRI Side Effects Include:

  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Clenching of teeth
  • Vivid or bizarre dreams
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in weight
  • Sexual side effects
  • Tremors

SSRI Withdrawal

SSRIs are known to cause “SSRI Withdrawal Syndrome” upon discontinuation of the medication. Withdrawal symptoms include electric shock sensations in the head and neck, sexual dysfunction and mood problems. Talk to a doctor about SSRI withdrawal to learn more about symptoms. If a person wants to stop taking an SSRI, it is important to consult a doctor and taper off of the medication under medical supervision. If a person who is taking an SSRI experiences suicidal thoughts, they should consult a doctor immediately. In rare cases, SSRI’s may worsen suicidal thinking.

SSRI Overdose

Overdose may include many symptoms but the most common are:

  • Serotonin Syndrome (Excessive levels of serotonin in brain)
  • Coma
  • Seizure
  • Cardiotoxicity (weakening of the heart)