How Do SSRI Antidepressants Work?

Reviewed on 1/6/2022

How Do SSRI Antidepressants Work?

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants are the most common medications prescribed to treat depression and many other psychiatric conditions. SSRIs selectively increase the levels of serotonin and regulate its activity.

Serotonin is an important natural chemical (neurotransmitter) released by nerve cells (neurons) in the brain to transmit nerve signals. Serotonin plays a vital role in neurotransmission in the central and peripheral nervous systems and regulates virtually all the systems in the body.

Some of the functions of serotonin include regulation of sleep, digestion, cognition, mood, and behavior. An increase in serotonin levels helps relieve anxiety and reduce depression symptoms.

SSRIs increase serotonin concentration in the space (synapse) between neurons by preventing its reabsorption (reuptake). Reuptake of neurotransmitters is a natural recycling process after the completion of neurotransmission. SSRIs prevent serotonin reuptake by inhibiting serotonin transporter (SERT), a protein in the transmitting neuron.

How Are SSRI Antidepressants Used?

SSRI antidepressants are oral tablets, capsules or solutions approved by the FDA for the treatment of the following conditions:

Off-label uses include:

What Are Side Effects of SSRI Antidepressants?

Side effects of SSRI antidepressants may include the following:

Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

What Are Names of Some SSRI Antidepressant Drugs?

Generic and brand names of SSRI antidepressant drugs include:


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