SSRIs and Depression
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressants that affect serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter. For many people, SSRIs are the first choice of depression selected by health care professionals for the treatment of depression or anxiety. Specific forms of depression that have been found to be effectively managed by SSRIs include severe major depression, the chronic melancholy of dysthymia, sadness that occurs during specific seasons (seasonal affective disorder), and that which primarily affects women after delivery of a child (postpartum depression). Forms of anxiety that have been found to be successfully addressed by SSRIs include the multiple worries of generalized anxiety disorder, the debilitating attacks of anxiety associated with panic disorder, the intrusive thoughts or compulsive acts of obsessive compulsive disorder, and the anxiety resulting from traumatic experiences (posttraumatic stress disorder).
Statistics indicate that SSRIs and other antidepressants have been prescribed more often over the last several years. In the United Kingdom, the frequency of antidepressant use increased by 10% every year from 1998 through 2010. In the United States, the use of these medications is about three times that in some other Western countries.
SSRIs, which are medications available only by prescription, may be used to treat depression. If a person's symptoms indicate that he or she has depression, a health care professional will strongly recommend treatment. Treatment may include supportive therapy, such as changes in lifestyle and behavior, psychotherapy, and complementary therapies, but it usually includes medication. Without treatment, depression symptoms may become worse or last much longer, making recovery difficult. With treatment, the chances of recovery from depression are very good.
Commonly prescribed SSRIs include the following:
SSRIs are available as tablets, capsules, or oral solution.
How Do SSRIs Work?
The antidepressant action of SSRIs is not completely understood but is possibly due to the ability of SSRIs to block the uptake of serotonin, thereby providing higher levels of serotonin at the brain receptor site.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/31/2015
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