Antidepressants (Depression Medications)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

How do selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work?

SSRIs are the most widely used class of antidepressants. They work by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain. Unlike MAOIs and TCAs, SSRIs do not significantly affect norepinephrine levels in the brain. SSRIs also have fewer and milder side effects, fewer drug interactions, and are much less likely to be associated with suicide than TCAs.

What are the side effects of SSRIs?

  • Headaches: SSRIs cause headaches and dose-related nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that improve with continued treatment.
  • Insomnia, restlessness, agitation: Insomnia, restlessness, and agitation-which decrease over time-also are associated with SSRIs. Insomnia can be treated with low dose (50-100 mg) trazodone (Desyrel) at bedtime and agitation may be managed by reducing the SSRI dose or treating with anti-anxiety drugs.
  • Sexual dysfunction: SSRIs also are associated with sexual dysfunction. Symptoms of sexual dysfunction in men may be treated with sildenafil (Viagra), yohimbine (Pausinystalia yohimbe), amantadine (Symmetrel), cyproheptadine, or neostigmine (Prostigmin).
  • Weight gain or loss: Over time, weight loss or weight gain has been associated with SSRIs. Patients may experience weight loss initially but quickly regain weight.

What drugs interact with SSRIs?

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/14/2016

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