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February 20, 2018

SSRI: Anti-Depressants

By Dr. Richard Kark, M.D.

SSRI stands for "Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor". This is a category of medicine which increases a chemical call serotonin in certain portions in the brain. In poorly understood ways this increase often significantly helps depression and several other mood disorders. That is why millions of people around the world are benefiting from this class of drugs which includes Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro.

These medications were originally developed to treat depression. They quickly became popular because they worked as well as (though not better than) older anti-depressants. More importantly, they were much safer than the older ones and had far fewer side effects. They are non-addictive and almost impossible to overdose with. They do no "mask" difficult issues, but do allow suffers to better deal with the causes and consequences of their affliction. Discussing issues with a counselor or psychotherapist is always a good idea too.

You may be depressed enough to need medication if you feel persistently sad or have lost interest in people or activities which gave you more pleasure in the past. These feelings may cause a loss of energy, disturbed sleep, over or under eating, crying spells, decreased interest in sex and possibly other symptoms. Some people do not realize they are depressed when they experience these symptoms.

At some point in time it was discovered that SSRIs tended to lessen the symptoms of other mood disorders besides depression. Those suffering from eating disorders and anxiety disorders often benefited. Included among the beneficiaries have been people with panic disorder, generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

You may have an anxiety disorder if you worry incessantly or feel constantly "on edge". These feelings may cause headaches, abdominal discomforts, easy sweating, a pounding heart, trouble breathing or sleep disturbances.

If you feel overly anxious or depressed, SSRIs may be very helpful for you. Don't give up on the idea if you have taken them before without success. You may not have taken the medication long enough or the dosage may have been inadequate. Perhaps you need a different SSRI or a different class of medication entirely. Please don't give up. Practically all sufferers of depression and anxiety can be helped by a combination of medication and counseling. SSRIs may be part of your ticket back to more joyful and relaxed living.

(used with permission)