Join or Renew and Choose Your Gift
- Offer ends Dec. 17
- Discounts on travel and everyday savings
- Subscription to AARP The Magazine
- Free membership for your spouse or partner
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are medicines that relieve symptoms of depression.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are used to treat serious, continuing depression that interferes with a person's ability to function. Like other antidepressant drugs, they help reduce the extreme sadness, hopelessness, and lack of interest in life that are typical in people with depression. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors also are used to treat panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and have shown promise for treating a variety of other conditions, such as premenstrual syndrome, eating disorders, obesity, self-mutilation, and migraine headache.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, also known as SSRIs or serotonin boosters, are thought to work by correcting chemical imbalances in the brain. Normally, chemicals called neurotransmitters carry signals from one nerve cell to another. These chemicals are constantly being released and taken back up at the ends of nerve cells. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors act on one particular neurotransmitter, serotonin, reducing its re-entry into nerve cells and thus allowing serotonin to build up. Although scientists are not exactly sure how it works, serotonin is involved in the control of moods, as well as other functions such as sleep, body temperature, and appetite for sweets and other carbohydrates. Somehow, drugs that prevent the uptake of serotonin improve the moods of people with serious depression, OCD, and some types of anxiety disorders.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are available only with a doctor's prescription and are sold in tablet, capsule, and liquid forms. Commonly used selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), and fluvoxamine (Luvox).
The recommended dosage depends on the type of SSRI and the type and severity of depression for which it is being taken. Dosages may be different for different people. It is important for people taking SSRIs to take the drug exactly as prescribed. Taking larger or more frequent doses or taking the drug for longer than directed, for example, can cause unwanted effects.
SSRIs are about as effective as other antidepressants. About 60-80% of people taking the drugs as directed will find that their conditions improve. However, it may take four weeks or more for the effects of this medicine to be felt. Therefore, when people begin SSRI therapy, it is important to continue taking the medication, even if an improvement in mood doesn't begin immediately.
People who take SSRIs should ask their doctors about how to stop taking the medication. Usually, doctors
SSRIs may be taken with food to prevent stomach upset.
Author Info: Nancy Ross-Flanigan, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 2002
Enter your symptoms in our Symptom Checker to find out possible causes of your symptoms. Go.
Enter any list of prescription drugs and see how they interact with each other and with other substances. Go.
Enter its color and shape information, and this tool helps you identify it. Go.
Find information on drug interactions, side effects, and more. Go.
From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.
Members save on purchases from The Popcorn Factory®.
Members save from top retailers online at Everyday Savings Center powered by NextJump.
Members save 10% on all Amazon Kindle e-readers and the Kindle Fire HD tablet.
Get the most out of your AARP membership – opt-in to receive AARP emails today!
Register at a location near you to keep your driving skills sharp.
Find opportunities to volunteer in your neighborhood.
NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon teams up with AARP's Foundation.
AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard brought to you by Green Dot.
Nothing has been viewed