What Are the Pros and Cons of Taking an SSRI for Depression?

B. Miller

SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are commonly prescribed drugs used to treat depression because they help to increase the length of time serotonin remains in the brain, which helps improve depression. Using an SSRI for depression is a solution for a significant number of people because it helps to stabilize the mood, typically at a fairly neutral level; however, for people who have been suffering with the persistent lows of depression, this can be precisely the boost that is needed. The downsides to using an SSRI for depression are numerous, however, and include unpleasant side effects, an occasional inability to experience positive feelings as well as negative, loss of libido, and withdrawal symptoms if the medication is stopped.

SSRIs are prescription drugs.
SSRIs are prescription drugs.

The pros of taking an SSRI for depression are that they help to stabilize moods, and are often an effective treatment for the disorder. They are some of the most often prescribed antidepressants because they help to prevent very high moods or very low moods. Typically they only need to be taken once per day, and adjustments can be made to the dosage if it is found that a smaller dose will be equally effective. Some people have also found they help regulate the appetite, which can lead to weight loss, since many people with depression tend to gain weight.

SSRIs stabilize moods to help treat depression.
SSRIs stabilize moods to help treat depression.

The cons of taking an SSRI for depression are slightly more numerous. Side effects are common, and these can include loss of libido, headaches, nausea or diarrhea, and a feeling of drowsiness. In addition, some people find that they feel nervous or anxious when taking an SSRI, and experience shaking or tremors, among other side effects. Though this drug has the potential to cause weight loss, others find that it increases appetite and causes weight gain. Adjusting the dosage can sometimes help to alleviate the side effects, though some require making a switch to a different antidepressant; ceasing any antidepressant often causes withdrawal symptoms that are very much like these potential side effects.

Many people with depression tend to gain weight.
Many people with depression tend to gain weight.

One of the most serious issues with taking an SSRI is these drugs have the potential to increase suicidal thoughts, particularly in adolescents and children. It is very important that any children who are prescribed an SSRI are carefully monitored, though anyone taking the drug should be aware that this is a potential effect, and should immediately notify the doctor who prescribed if any self-destructive emotions are encountered. Finding the correct balance and dosage when using an SSRI for depression can take some time, but it is important to be persistent to get results.

People who have been suffering with persistent lows of depression may benefit from taking an SSRI.
People who have been suffering with persistent lows of depression may benefit from taking an SSRI.
SSRIs are used to treat depression, as they help to increase the length of time serotonin remains in the brain.
SSRIs are used to treat depression, as they help to increase the length of time serotonin remains in the brain.

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