Before discussing the potential SSRI side effects a brief description is in order. An SSRI is an antidepressant type drug that is known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI for short. It is most commonly prescribed for the treatment of conditions such as anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic attacks, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (a severe form of PMS), and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Some of the things that an SSRI can do for you is increase energy, improve mood, and enhance your ability to have deep restful sleep. These can lead to a renewed interest in ordinary activities and learning to appreciate life once again. In other words, there are many benefits to be enjoyed by taking an SSRI. Unfortunately, for some the SSRI side effects outweigh those benefits.
The first potential side effect worth mentioning is the slight increase in a potential for increasing depression which may or may not include suicidal thoughts. If you feel that your symptoms of depression are growing worse after you begin taking an SSRI or notice violent mood swings, thoughts of harming yourself or others, uncontrollable anger, or an overwhelming sense of despair you should immediately contact your prescribing doctor.
Some SSRI side effects can enhance or aggravate existing conditions or predispositions. If you have a familial history of liver problems, kidney problems, kidney disease, bipolar (manic depressive) disorder, seizures, stomach ulcers, dehydration, low blood sodium, or suicide attempts then you may discover that an SSRI is not a good choice for you. An SSRI should not be taken while pregnant due to potential withdrawal problems after the baby is born.
Other side effects impact quality of life. These side effects aren't necessarily severe but can be disruptive. They include: dizziness, headache, drowsiness, excessive yawning, fatigue, dry mouth, and nausea. Other symptoms you may recognize as SSRI side effects are: loss of interest in sexual activities, blurred vision, restlessness, numbness, and shakiness. If you experience the latter symptoms you should notify your doctor in case they are symptoms of something more. Also notify your doctor if your heartbeat becomes erratic or irregular, if you notice that you are bruising more easily, or your stool and/or vomit begins to have the consistency of coffee grounds.
Because of the risk for interactions with other medications it is vital that you offer complete honesty when discussing other medications you are taking with your doctor. This includes drugs that are not necessarily legal, vitamins, herbal supplements, over the counter medications, and prescriptions provided by other physicians.
To take an SSRI should be a decision made between you and your physician. Knowing about the possible SSRI side effects will help you make an informed decision about whether or not it is the best choice for you. If side effects are a concern there are natural and herbal alternatives you can discuss with your health care team.