- What is an antidepressant medication?
- How do antidepressants work?
- How do selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work?
- What are the side effects of SSRIs?
- What are examples of SSRIs?
- How do serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)? work
- What are the side effects and drug interactions for SNRIs?
- What are examples of SNRIs?
- What are examples and side effects of tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) medications?
- What are examples and side effects of monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) medications?
- What other antidepressants are available?
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?
- Confusion, high blood pressure, tremor, hyperactivity, coma, and death may occur when SSRIs are combined with other drugs that increase brain serotonin levels, for example, MAOIs, TCAs, sumatriptan (Imitrex), linezolid (Zyvox), St John's Wort, tramadol (Ultram), and meperidine (Demerol).
- The risk of gastrointestinal bleeding may be increased when SSRIs are combined with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- SSRIs may increase the effect of the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), leading to excessive bleeding. Therefore, warfarin therapy, and patients taking NSAIDs should be monitored more frequently with PT/INR testing in individuals who also are taking SSRIs.
Quick GuidePhysical Symptoms of Depression in Pictures
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.