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Medication for Depression: SSRIís to the Rescue? 

Medication for Depression: An Overview of SSRIís 

ssri antidepressant medicationThe latest group of medications for depression, the SSRI's, has frequently been referred to as second generation antidepressant drugs. These medications for depression are structurally different from the MAO inhibitors and tricyclic medications, with most having been developed over the last decade or so. These have become incredibly popular medications for depression, and frequently are prescribed by family care physicians due to their improved safety profile over previous antidepressants.  Most of these second generation antidepressants fit within the category of SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), because they increase the amount of the neurotransmitter serotonin, without activating other neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine. Some of the more popular SSRIís include Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline). Also, new medications for depression have also been developed which selectively activate other neurotransmitter systems besides those associated with serotonin. Some of these newly developed antidepressants include selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (which activate only norepinephrine systems) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (which increase both serotonin and norepinephrine activity), have become available in recent years.  

 

Research studies have found that the second-generation medications for depression have about the same level of effectiveness as tricyclic antidepressants, but their sales have absolutely skyrocketed. Studies of sales conducted several years ago found that Prozac alone had produced over $3 billion in sales per year, leading many clinicians to believe that Prozac may be prescribed much too often. Many have worried in particular about its use with children, elderly people and people with relatively minor psychological problems.  In some cases, Prozac has even been prescribed for dogs. Overall, clinicians seem to prefer these new medications for depression because of their increased level of safety over previous antidepressants. There seem to be fewer side effects such as dry mouth and constipation associated with these more selective neurotransmitter activating medications, and less potential for overdose than their predecessors.  However, these medications also have unpleasant side effects and include such things as abdominal pain, agitation, anxiety, constipation, decreased sex drive, diarrhea or loose stools, difficulty with ejaculation, dizziness, dry mouth, fatigue, gas, headache, decreased appetite, increased sweating, indigestion, insomnia, nausea, nervousness, pain, rash, sleepiness, sore throat, tingling or pins and needles, tremor, vision problems and vomiting. 

Based upon information from Ronald J. Comerís Abnormal Psychology  

By Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

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Mental Health Diagnosis - DSM-IV Diagnosis and Codes: In Alphabetical Order

Psychiatric Medication

Celexa 

Effexor

 Elavil

Lexapro

Luvox

Pamelor

Paxil

Pristiq

Prozac

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