Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs are the most commonly used anti-depressants and are used in the treatment of clinical depression, anxiety disorders and personality disorders. They are very effective in patients suffering from severe depression, but their effectiveness with other conditions is in dispute.

These drugs work by preventing the uptake of serotonin, thereby increasing the amount of serotonin in the space between neurons.

The drugs have several side effects including anhedonia, nausea, drowsiness, vivid dreams, fatigue, urinary retention, sleep changes, change in weight, and occasionally more severe symptoms such as kidney damage, changes in sexual desire and sensititivy to light. However, many side effects become less severe after the patient has been taking the drug for a time. One of the other risks is that younger patients are often at a higher risk of suicide early on in treatment.

These drugs are habit forming and withdrawal can be an issue when the patient goes off the drug or is taken off the drug. However, abuse of these drugs is very rare and an overdose is usually not life-threatening.

SSRIs also have a wide range of interaction with other medications, such as warfarin, digoxin, beta blockers, benzodiazepine, alcohol and ecstacy.

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