SSRI antidepressants are a commonly used group of drugs used to treat the symptoms of clinical and situational depression. There are many different groups of antidepressants and they all work in different ways. SSRIs work in a different way than other groups of medication because they only work on the neurotransmitter serotonin, and not on other neurotransmitters. Additionally, SSRI antidepressants offer benefits over other types of antidepressants and have proven to be quite beneficial in the treatment of depression.
Overview of SSRI Antidepressants
SSRI stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The name actually explains what the drug does. They help to stop the absorption of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Abnormal absorption of serotonin is thought to be one of the main causes of depression as normal amounts of this substance contribute to maintaining a positive mental state.
SSRIs are used mostly to treat depression, but have also been used to treat other mental illnesses such as panic disorder, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.
SSRI's side effects are considered to be less severe than those of other depression treatment drugs. Common side effects include nausea, joint pain, upset stomach, insomnia and rashes. These are usually very mild and do not stop a patient from taking the drug.
SSR's have also been linked with two very serious side effects, but these are also very rare. The causes are known, so these are avoidable. Serotonin syndrome is caused by dangerous levels of serotonin in the brain. It causes confusion, hallucinations, and seizures and can lead to a coma. It is usually a result of drug interaction, which can be easily avoided with proper guidance from a qualified medical provider.
The other issue is that, in some cases, SSRIs can cause an increase in depression or suicidal thoughts. This occurs usually as a result of changing doses and, with careful monitoring by a doctor, can be resolved.
The use of SSRI antidepressants is often the first option considered by doctors. The patient is heavily monitored when beginning the medication for side effects. If no side effects occur the treatment continues and usually is effective as a depression treatment.
History of SSRI Antidepressants
SSRI antidepressants are considered a new class of antidepressants. They were first introduced in 1987 with the first type of SSRI to be used and still the most commonly prescribed is fluoxetine, sold under the brand name Prozac.
SSRI antidepressants became rather popular due to the relative safeness of the drug and lack of severe side effects. There is a low risk of overdose with a rare risk of death by overdose, and SSRIs are not addictive as are other depression treatment drugs. They are now a commonly prescribed treatment for depression.
Common Types of SSRI Antidepressants
There are five types of SSRIs:
Citalopram - sold as Celexa
Escitalopram - sold as Lexapro
Fluoxetine - sold as Prozac
Paroxetine - sold as Paxil
Sertrline - sold as Zoloft
The different types of SSRIs all have been proven to provide the same treatment affects. The main difference is the possible side effects a person may have. Usually the choice of SSRI is based solely upon the reaction of the patient to the medication.
Effectiveness of SSRIs as treatment for Depression
SSRIs are often used because they carry fewer risks than other treatment methods. However, patients need to work closely with a doctor when changing medications, or deciding to stop taking SSRIs due to withdrawal symptoms.