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SSRIs

SSRISSRI stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. They are a group of antidepressant medicines (including Prozac, Seroxat, Fluoxetine, Fontex, Deroxat and Sarafem) that are used to treat depression. They are also used to treat some other conditions such as bulimia, panic disorder, and obsessional-compulsive disorder.

SCIENTIFIC TERM:

Different terms depending on the type of SSRI.

STREET NAMES:

Bars, handlebars, footballs

EFFECTS:

SSRIs cause a sedating (relaxing) effect.  SSRIs work by preventing neurons (nerve cells) from pulling in the serotonin that is floating in the space between neurons. This allows more serotonin to build up and improves communication between the neurons.

DRUG FORM & METHOD OF USE:

SSRIs come in capsule form (and sometimes liquid) and are taken orally.

HEALTH RISKS (long term) which includes withdrawal & tolerance:

SSRIs can cause an increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviours. They also carry a risk for increased hostility, agitation, and anxiety. In adults 65 and older, SSRIs increase the risk for falls, fractures, and bone loss.  Also, because the pathways involved in MDD are in the lower brain and brainstem, antidepressants may interfere with other functions, like appetite, sleep and respiratory function.  SSRIs are not tranquillisers, and are not thought to be addictive.   It is possible for SSRIs to produce unpleasant withdrawal symptoms (sometimes called a discontinuation syndrome) when they are stopped. But this is temporary, 

LAW:

SSRIs can only be obtained through prescription.  GPs prescribe SSRIs for depression, as do psychiatrists if they have been asked by a person's GP to give further help in treating depression.

  1. SSRI antidepressants can take 2-4 weeks to work fully.
  2. About 5-7 in 10 people with depression improve within a few weeks of starting treatment with SSRI’s.
  3. The success rate of SSRI antidepressants in treating other conditions varies.
  4. SSRIs are not tranquillisers, and are not thought to be addictive.
  5. Discontinuation reactions (‘withdrawal’ symptoms) occur in a minority of people and are usually mild and self-limiting.
  6. It is recommended that people should stop SSRIs gradually over several weeks rather than abruptly.
  7. Since the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants were introduced in the late 1980s, they have become heavily prescribed, first-line therapy for depressive illness.
  8. The SSRIs are equally effective, with 50-70% of patients responding satisfactorily.
  9. It is possible for SSRIs to produce unpleasant withdrawal symptoms (sometimes called a discontinuation syndrome) when they are stopped.
  10. SSRIs can cause worsening of anxiety right at the start of treatment, even though they are prescribed to treat anxiety.
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