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What Are SSRIs? Your Guide To Everything You Need To Know

What Are SSRIs? Your Guide To Everything You Need To Know:

While mental health is a topic of increasing importance in the UK, medications are among the most common forms of treatment.

SSRIs are commonly prescribed mental health drugs that can enhance well-being and reduce feelings of depression or anxiety.

In this guide, we’ll be discussing mental health, common mental disorders and how SSRIs can be used for treatment. We’ll also evaluate who these drugs are for and what potential side effects may occur when trying an SSRI.

Everything you need to know about mental health and SSRIs is right here, so let’s get started.

What Does SSRI Stand For?

SSRI stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. It’s a type of antidepressant that helps improve mood by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, social behavior, sleep patterns, appetite, and sexual function.

As such, these drugs are often prescribed to treat depression and anxiety disorders.

What Are The Most Common Types of SSRIs?

The most commonly prescribed SSRIs are:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil) 
  • Citalopram (Celexa)

It’s important to note: there is no “better” or “worse” type of SSRI, it all depends on the individual person and their needs.

How Do SSRIs Work?

Now that we know what SSRIs are it leads us to question, how do they work?

Essentially, SSRIs increase the amount of serotonin available in the brain by making it harder for it to be reabsorbed into your brain’s nerve cells.

Serotonin is an important chemical transmitter involved with mood regulation, so when its levels increase, mental health issues can improve.

Over time, improved levels of serotonin can have very positive effects on mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety by easing symptoms like sadness, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, disrupted sleeping patterns, and even suicidal thoughts.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Like all medications, there can be side effects associated with taking SSRIs.

These can include:

  • Weight gain or loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia or drowsiness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Headache or fatigue
  • Decreased libido or sexual problems (e.g., difficulty achieving orgasm)
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Blurred vision or trouble focusing

If any of these side effects become severe or persistent it’s important to speak to your doctor right away as they may need to adjust your dosage or switch you to a different medication altogether.

How Long Do SSRIs Take To Start Working?

Generally speaking, it can take anywhere between two and six weeks for someone to feel the effects of an SSRI–provided the dose remains constant and the patient adheres properly to their mental health treatment plan.

It’s important to reinforce the idea that SSRIs don’t often start taking effect immediately. Rather, it takes time for the drug to build up in your system and begin working properly.

This means that, even if you don’t feel any difference initially, it’s crucial to remain consistent with your intake. Doing so is likely to result in seeing positive effects down the line.

Mental health conditions can vary widely from person to person however, so it’s important for everyone who starts taking an SSRI to consult their doctor about what results they can expect and how long it should take before those results start showing up.

What Kinds of Mental Health Conditions Do SSRIs Treat?

As we previously discussed, SSRIs are an extremely common way to treat mood disorders as it allows for more serotonin to stick around in the brain longer. Let’s discuss the top 5 mental health conditions most often treated by SSRIs.

1. Depression

Depression is a mental health condition that is characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. Depression can interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, eat, and enjoy activities that they used to find pleasurable. SSRIs are commonly used to treat depression as they can help to improve mood and increase energy levels.

2. Anxiety

Anxiety is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of fear, worry, and unease. People with anxiety may also experience physical symptoms such as trembling, sweating, and heart palpitations. SSRIs can be helpful in decreasing symptoms of anxiety, such as reducing obsessive worrying, racing thoughts, and panic attacks. SSRIs can also help in creating a sense of wellbeing by providing feelings of relaxation and emotional stability.

3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that is characterized by intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions). People with OCD may feel compelled to perform certain rituals or routines in order to relieve their anxiety. SSRIs are often used to treat OCD as they can help to reduce the frequency and intensity of obsessions and compulsions.

4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is another condition resulting in intrusive memories, flashbacks, and nightmares following a traumatic event. People with PTSD may also experience feelings of guilt, shame, and isolation. SSRIs are often used to treat PTSD as they can help to soften the symptoms of PTSD and improve overall quality of life.

5. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is defined by mood swings, irritability, and depression in the days leading up to menstruation. PMDD affects up to 5% of women and can interfere with work, school, and relationships. SSRIs are commonly used to treat PMDD as they can help to improve mood and reduce the symptoms of PMDD.

A Quick Summary         

All in all, SSRIs are an effective form of treatment for depression and anxiety disorders. However, like any medication they come with potential side effects which should be discussed with your doctor before starting any kind of treatment plan.

With that being said if you’re feeling particularly low it may be worth discussing the possibility of trying out an SSRI with your doctor as it could potentially make a huge difference in your day-to-day life!








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