Antidepressants are drugs used for the treatment of depression. They can be used alone or in combination with other medications.
Before the 1950′s, opioids and amphetamines were commonly used as antidepressants. Their use was later restricted due to their addictive nature and side-effects.
Today, SSRI’s or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, are typically used to alleviate mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
SSRI’s work by increasing the extracellular level of the neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) serotonin in the brain by inhibiting its re-uptake (re-absorption) into the presynaptic cell. This process is believed to increase the level of serotonin in the synaptic cleft of the brain.
The SSRI’s that are approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for the treatment of depression Including:
- Celexa (Citalopram HBr)
- Lexapro (Escitalopram)
- Prozac (Fluoxetine)
- Paxil (Paroxetine)
- Zoloft (Sertraline)
- Symbyax (Fluoxetine combined with the atypical antipsychotic olanzapine)
Side effects of SSRI’s may include:
- Dry Mouth
- Reduced Sexual Desire Inability to Maintain an Erection Rash
- Increased Sweating Weight Gain
- Increased Blood Pressure Tremor
- Muscle Weakness
The FDA requires Black Box warnings on all SSRI’s, stating that, they double suicidal rates in children and adolescents. The increased risk of suicidal behavior among adults under 25 is comparable to that seen in children and adolescents.
Long-Term Use Of SSRI’s:
Once the course of your antidepressant ends, the therapeutic effects, do not continue. A recent study found that 18% of patients who had responded to an antidepressant relapsed while still taking it, compared to 41% whose antidepressant was switched for a placebo.
The American Psychiatric Association guidelines advise 4 to 5 months of continuation treatment on an antidepressant following the resolution of symptoms.
The British Association for Psycho-pharmacology advise remaining on the antidepressant for at least 6 months and as long as 5 years or even indefinitely.