BLOG 268 SELECTIVE SERATONIN REUPTAKE INHIBITORS (SSRIs)
The most commonly prescribed antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medication works to increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is an important chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) that signals communication between brain cells. More serotonin becomes available as SSRIs block the re-uptake of serotonin so that more is ready for use.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the following SSRIs:
• Citalopram (Celexa)
• Escitalopram (Lexapro)
• Fluoxetine (Prozac)
• Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
• Sertraline (Zoloft)
• Vilazodone (Viibryd)
The FDA requires that these medications are labeled with the type of warning called “black box warnings”. This is because some people can have an increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviors when taking an antidepressant.
The chemical makeup of these different prescriptions can cause side effects. For some, these subside within the few couple weeks, while others lead to trying a different type. Possible side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, headache, agitation, nausea, or diarrhea. Taking the medication at bedtime can help with drowsiness and taking the medication with food can help with nausea. It is important to consider drug interactions if taking other medication and one should consult their doctor if pregnant and taking an SSRI. The key is to consistently take the medication. SSRIs are not considered addictive, but missing doses or abruptly stopping their use can cause withdrawl. It typically takes several weeks for an SSRI to become effective. It is common for doses to have to be adjusted or medications to be switched until the right combination is found.
Although the objective of SSRIs is to treat depression, some people respond differently to certain types. One person can have very different side effects from another person. Patience is critical. Relief will come. When feelings of sadness are so severe that they interfere with daily life, physical and emotional problems can result. Feelings that cause home life and work life to be difficult should be addressed. Depression is one of the most treatable conditions. Most times, 80% of people feel relief when using SSRIs. The brain chemistry can be positively changed to help you feel better. Feelings of sadness can be controlled, and emotions can be regulated. SSRIs specifically target serotonin which can in turn help fight depression, as well as anxiety, and other mood disorders. Some people have side effects and some do not. When the time is right, one can reduce dosage and come off this medication, but this should never be done abruptly. We are meant to smile and enjoy life, and SSRIs provide the assistance and potential relief to do so. Talking to your doctor is important to find the right solution and treatment for depression that works for you.