Many psychiatrists and some other medical practitioners believe that when someone is “depressed” a likely cause is that there is a lack of serotonin in the brain.  This diagnosis is done, in most cases, without conducting tests to determine if there is a medical that condition that creates the same symptoms of depression but should be treated.  In fact, there are no medical tests of any kind to ascertain if the serotonin levels are too high or too low.  This is why selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant drugs (SSRIs) are often prescribed.

HOW SSRIs WORK

We know that in the brain serotonin is constantly being released from one cell, attaching to the receptor in another cell and then being sent back to the releasing cell.  This is called the reuptake process.

SSRIs attempt to slow the reuptake process and, theoretically, this will increase the amount of serotonin in the brain by an estimated 150%.  The SSRI drugs are only supposed to affect serotonin and not  the other neurotransmitters that are undergoing reuptake processes. with. Again, in theory, increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain will decrease the depression.

SSRIs

The first selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor to be aggressively marketed in the United States was fluoxetine (Prozac), introduced by Eli Lilly in 1987.  The following are the best selling SSRIs:

Generic Name

citalopram
escitalopram oxalate
paroxetine
fluoxetine
fluvoxamine maleate
sertaline

Trade Name

Celexa®
Lexapro®
Paxil®
Prozac®
Luvox®
Zoloft®

SSRI SIDE EFFECTS

  • Suicide or Suicide attempt
  • Sexual Problems
  • Nausea
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Migraine headaches
  • Sleep problems
  • Vertigo
  • Involuntary muscle contractions
  • Sluggishness
  • Heartburn
  • Fever and Hot Flashes
  • Weight gain
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Irritability
  • Sinus problems
  • Blurred vision
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)