Friday, June 13, 2014

Depression Pills - Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

The depression pills known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most widely prescribed medication for depression. SSRIs work by blocking the reuptake of a chemical transmitter called serotonin into the nerve cell endings. This action maintains a higher level of serotonin in the brain, which in theory reduces symptoms of depression.

The first drug in this category to find its way to the market was Prozac in 1988 followed by Paxil and a few others. From day one they have been the most popular and some would argue most overprescribed prescription antidepressant medication. Perhaps on reason for their popularity is that their side effects are less severe than older antidepressants (MAO inhibitors) and the consequences of overdose are also much less severe. 

An SSRI is often a doctor's first choice in treating cases of depression. These drugs are also used in cases involving dysthymia and seasonal affective disorder. They usually take from one to four weeks to become effective. While their side effects are not as severe as older antidepressants the list is still very long. Side effects include increased anxiety, fatigue, upset stomach, insomnia, apathy, lack of sexual interest, dizziness, sweating, tremors, dry mouth, weight loss, weight gain and headache.

Additional complications:

*Drug interactions: Taking SSRIs with another type of antidepressant called MAO inhibitors can trigger dangerous even life threatening interactions.

*Suicide in children: The popular SSRI Paxil has been linked to an increase in self harm in children which could possibly lead to suicidal attempts.

*Withdrawal: Abrupt discontinuation of any antidepressant including SSRIs can produce flu like symptoms such as fever, chills, nausea, sweating and headache. Sudden withdrawal has also been linked to sleep problems and vivid dreams.

*If you are bipolar just say no: If you have bipolar disorder SSRIs can activate manic states which can involve dangerous behaviors. 

Naming names 

There are currently six selective serotonin uptake inhibitors on the market. They are Celexa, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft.
In summary, if you have severe depression you should consult with your doctor to find the best treatment option for your unique situation. On the other hand many people with mild to moderate depression have found help in the form of herbal remedies for depression containing ingredients such as St. John's wort and Passionflower. These all natural alternatives are very safe and have been shown to be effective as a stand alone treatment or in combination with behavioral therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy. Herbs should not be mixed prescription antidepressant medications and you should consult your doctor before changing your treatment plan.

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