Antidepressants | What are Antidepressants

Antidepressants | The Maher Law Firm

The term antidepressant is sometimes applied to any therapy or process found to improve a clinically depressed mood.

In the 1950s Opioids were used to treat major depression, in the 1960s Amphetamines were used,  today SSRIs are used.

Some antidepressants are in a group of drugs/medications called SSRI’s or Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors.  SSRI’s 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.

It is believed that changing the balance of serotonin helps brain cells send and receive chemical messages, which then boost mood.

SSRI Efficacy:

It is estimated that between 30% and 50% of individuals treated with a given antidepressant do not show a response.  Where there has been a strong response, it is common to still note significant continuing depression and dysfunction with relapse rates of 3 to 6 times higher in some cases.  Also, antidepressant drugs tend to lose efficacy over the course of treatment.  There are a number of strategies your physician may use to overcome these limits and variations.

A Meta-Analysis from 2010 disputes the efficiency of SSRI’s, indicating that:

“The magnitude of benefit of antidepressant medication compared with placebo, may be minimal or nonexistent, on average, in patients with mild or moderate symptoms.  For patients with very severe depression, the benefit of medications over placebo is substantial.”

FDA (Food & Drug Administration) Approved some SSRI’s for the treatment of depression Including:

  • Celexa (Citalopram)
  • Lexapro (Escitalopram)
  • Prozac (Fluoxetine)
  • Paxil (Paroxetine)
  • Zoloft (Sertraline)
  • Symbyax (Fluoxetine combined with the atypical antipsychotic olanzapine)

Side effects of SSRI’s include, but are not limited to:

Nausea, Dry Mouth, Headache, Diarrhea, Nervousness, Reduced Sexual Desire, Inability to Maintain an Erection, Rash, Increased Sweating, Weight Gain, Drowsiness, Insomnia, Increased Blood Pressure, Tremor, Agitation, Muscle Weakness

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requires Black Box warnings on all SSRI’s which state 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.


Medication Violence Timeline:

  • November, 1991- Barbara Mortensoncannibalizes her 87-year-old grandmother while on the drug Prozac.
  • April, 1999- Eric Harris killed 12 classmates at Columbine High School while on the drug Luvox
  • December, 1999- Oklahoman student Seth Trickey fired on his class while taking several medications. He was 13 years old
  • March, 2001- While taking Prozac. 14 year old Elizabeth Bush shot and wounded another student in Williamsport, Penn.
  • March, 2005- 16-year-old Jeffrey Weisse killed nine people in Red Lake, Minnesota under the influence of Prozac.

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