SSRI for Anxiety and Depression

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Clinical depression is a medical condition that goes beyond everyday sadness. Depression takes a toll on people’s lives. Depression is the most common mental disorder in the United States. In this article, we will discuss depression and anxiety overview and the treatment.

What is Depression

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 8% of Americans aged 12 and older have signs and symptoms of depression. People of lower socioeconomic means were 2.5 times more likely to have depression.

Of the people who have depression, 43% have such severe depression symptoms that they cannot function.

Depression is more than just feeling “sad”. Depression can totally take over your life. It is important for people to get treatment because people with depression have a lower quality of life.

SSRI and the elderly

Depressions Signs and Symptoms

Depression symptoms are categorized into three groups: Mood, Cognitive, and Physical symptoms. Symptoms include:

  • Depressed
  • Sad
  • Irritable
  • Loss of interest in activities

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health conditions. Although they are less visible than schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder, they can be just as disabling.

Anxiety Signs and Symptoms

  • Restlessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Lack of concentration
  • Sweating
  • Nervousness
  • Fatigue
  • Racing thoughts

How Long Do SSRI Take to be Effective

All antidepressant medications are equally effective. They elevate mood in 60% to 80% of people who use them as directed.

Depression is a serious disorder that is associated with higher rates of chronic disease.

Non -Hispanic Black people and Hispanic people

It usually takes a minimum of two to three weeks to feel any benefit, and up to six weeks for the antidepressant to exert its full effect.

The first antidepressants, monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, were discovered accidentally during the 1950s by researchers who were trying to develop new drugs to treat tuberculosis. MAO inhibitors didn’t help TB, but they elevated mood.

Since then, SSRI’s were developed. The newer drugs are safer and for most people, have fewer side effects.

While all these medications are equally effective, some work better for different combinations of symptoms than others. It’s important to tell your doctor about your symptoms in detail so that your symptom cluster can be matched to the medication that works best for it.

But if the first antidepressant you try does not provide sufficient relief, don’t give up. Another probably will. Some depression sufferers must try several different medications before they find the one that works best for them.

Antidepressants are usually prescribed by themselves, but some psychiatrists combine them with other drugs to increase their effectiveness.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are a group of drugs approved for use in the treatment
of depression.

Many of the medications in this category are also approved for use in anxiety disorders
such as generalized anxiety, panic disorder, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and
posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


SSRI’s Actions

SSRIs are as effective as the other antidepressants, but no more so. They help 60% to 80% of those who use them as directed.

In addition to treating depression, SSRIs may also help treat anxiety, panic, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bulimia.

Typically, it takes several weeks of regular use to obtain the full antidepressant effect. These drugs are not addicting. However, do not abruptly stop taking antidepressants, as withdrawal effects may occur. Speak to your doctor about slowly tapering the drug off.

Side Effects

SSRIs may cause sexual side effects. Depending on the study, 40% to 50% of SSRI users complain of one or more sexual side effects, mostly, inability to have an orgasm, but also decreased desire and arousal, erection impairment in men, and loss of lubrication in women.

SSRIs also disrupt sleep. They often cause “micro-awakenings.” Users usually remain unaware of these sleep disruptions, but they appear clearly in sleep studies of SSRI users and contribute to the fatigue some users cite as a reason for dissatisfaction with these drugs.

If SSRIs keep you awake, take the dose before noon each day. If they make you sleepy, take the dose at bedtime.

Generally, SSRIs can cause headaches, excessive sweating, nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea, difficulty sleeping, drowsiness, and tremor. A decrease in weight tends to occur more often than weight gain.

Giving SSRI to the Elderly

One must be careful giving SSRI to the elderly. Patients with kidney impairment should take caution when taking SSRI. The side effects of SSRI are also exacerbated in the elderly.

Psychotherapy has been proven to help the elderly with depression. However, since Medicare does not cover psychotherapy, doctors use antidepressant medications.

Instructions to Users

SSRIs may cause dizziness or drowsiness. Be extra careful when driving or operating machinery until you and your doctor feel reasonably confident that your SSRI does not interfere.

Do not drink alcohol while taking an SSRI.

If you take or plan to take other drugs while taking an SSRI, discuss the issue with your physicians and/or pharmacist. Hazardous drug interactions are possible.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding or plan to become pregnant while taking an SSRI, discuss your situation with your doctor.

SSRIs occasionally cause sensitivity to sunlight. Avoid prolonged sun exposure, wear protective clothing, and use sunscreen until you determine your level of sun sensitivity.

Consult your doctor if you develop hives, a rash, or any unusual reaction while taking any SSRI.

The Most Popular SSRIs and Dosages

All doses should be kept at the lowest effective level.


The recommended initial dose is 20 mg/day. Doses above 20 mg/day may be given in two doses, in morning and noon. If necessary, it may be increased up to a maximum of 80 mg/day. Seniors will require lower dosing, as will people with kidney or liver problems.


The recommended initial dose is 50 mg/day. If necessary, it may be increased up to a maximum of 200 mg/day. Seniors will require lower dosing, as will people with kidney or liver problems.


The recommended initial dose is 20 mg/day. If necessary, it may be increased up to a maximum of 50 mg/day. Seniors will require lower dosing, as will people with kidney or liver problems.


The recommended initial dose is 20 mg/day, generally with an increase to 40 mg/day after one week. It may be increased up to a maximum of 60 mg/day. Seniors will require lower dosing, as will people with kidney or liver problems.

Mechanism of Action

As their name implies, SSRIs selectively block the re-uptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin by nerve cells.

SSRIs block the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin into neurons.

This makes more serotonin available to improve the transmission of messages between neurons.


SSRI has been proven to be effective in some cases of depression and anxiety.


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About Phyllis Robinson MSN, RN

Phyllis Robinson MSN, RN is a Registered Nurse of 27 years. Phyllis is passionate about the prevention and healing of heart disease using traditional and alternative methods. She has experience in emergency room, telemetry, infusion, and critical care. Phyllis currently practices in an intensive care unit.


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