Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRI's, are one type of prescription medications used to treat depression, anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and other conditions.
They interact with the brain's neurotransmitters and are believed to work by balancing the body's serotonin levels thereby decreasing the symptoms of depression.
An imbalance of serotonin in the body is thought to be one of the causes of clinical depression.
Popular medications of this class include Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft. In addition, Luvox is also used to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Common side effects may include nausea, dry mouth anxiety, constipation, diminished libido, diarrhea, lightheadedness, drowsiness, fatigue, headache, insomnia or sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, and tremors.
More serious side effects can include thoughts of suicide or suicidal behavior, aggression, agitation, panic attacks, restlessness, hallucinations, rapid pulse, heart palpitations, and insomnia.
Possible signs of an allergic reaction may include skin irritations such as rash or hives, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, or swelling in body parts such as the tongue, hands, or feet. If you experience any serious side effects, contact your doctor immediately.
There may be increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in those who take this type of antidepressant medication, particularly in teens and young adults. Due to increased risks of suicidality, medications such as Paxil and Prozac are not recommended for use in children, teens, or young adults. For more information, see this important warning about antidepressants and suicide.
In addition, research indicates a link between selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and a possible increased risk of health issues or birth defects to developing fetuses in women taking these medications during pregnancy. For more information, read this important warning about antidepressants and pregnancy.
Users of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors should not consume alcohol. Since alcohol is a depressant drug, consuming it only increases depressive symptoms in those who already suffer from clinical depression. In addition, both substances inhibit and impair users' ability to operate heavy machinery and vehicles. For more information, read this warning about antidepressants and alcohol.
Keep in mind that medications affect every individual differently, and often some trial and error is required to find the most effective dose with the fewest side effects. Report all side effects to your healthcare provider, and attend regular medication monitoring appointments.
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