Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of compounds typically used as antidepressants in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, depersonalization disorder and some other personality disorders.
Do they work?
A meta-analysis done in 2010 states that "The magnitude of benefit of antidepressant medication
compared with placebo ... may be minimal or nonexistent, on average, in patients with mild or moderate symptoms. For patients with very severe depression, the benefit of medications over placebo is substantial."
Thus we can draw a conclusion that they do relieve severe depression.
How do they work?
SSRIs are believed to block the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Changing the balanceof serotonin seems to help brain cells send and receive chemical messages, which is believed to boost mood. SSRIs are called selective because they seem to only affect serotonin, not other neurotransmitters.
Do SSRIs have any side effects?
Very common - more than 1 person out of 10 may experience these - side effects are the following: nausea, low sex drive and withdrawal effects when stopping taking SSRIs.
Common - 1 person out of 10 may experience these - side effects are the following: blurred vision, dizziness, dry mouth, insomnia or hypersomnia, low appetite, sweating, diarrhoea or obstipation and agitation.
Less common - 1 person out of 100 may experience - are the following: bruising, bleeding, vomiting and vomiting blood, lack of movement, stiffness, abnormal movements of the mouth and tongue, hallucinations, inability to urinate and weight gain.
Rare and very rare side effects are the following: restlessness, convulsions or worsening of epilepsy, elevated mood, anxiety, allergic reaction (breathing difficulties, skin rashes, swelling of the eyelids, face, lips or tongue, itching), serotonin syndrome and glaucoma.
Are they addictive?
No. But SSRIs can have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms (aka discontinuation syndrome) when taking the drugs is stopped suddenly. These are usually avoided or minimised by gradually decreasing the doses of SSRIs over a period of few weeks, before quiting entirely.
What are the withdrawal symptoms?
Dizziness, numbness, nausea, vomiting, headache, sweating, anxiety and sleep disturbances.
Which are the most recommended SSRIs?
The one prescribed by your doctor.
In Unites States, only 5 manufacturers of SSRIs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Approved are the following: fluvoxamine maleate (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa) and fluoxetine (Prozac).