SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are approved to treat several conditions of the brain, such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The medications may also be prescribed off-label to treat a number of conditions, including alcoholism, personality disorders, and eating disorders. Because it can take several weeks to notice the full beneficial effects of SSRIs, it is important to give the medication a chance to work before becoming discouraged.
SSRI Effects: An OverviewSSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants are a class of prescription medications used to treat several conditions of the brain. Although SSRIs were originally used for treating depression, many are now approved to treat other conditions as well. SSRIs are approved and are effective for treating the following conditions:
- Depression (also known as major depression or clinical depression)
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorder
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Social anxiety disorder.
Not all SSRIs are approved for all of the above uses (see Comparisons of SSRI Antidepressants for more information).
General Effects of SSRIsIn general, SSRIs take several weeks to begin working. Sometimes, other people will notice an improvement in your symptoms before you do. Often, the physical symptoms of depression (or other conditions), such as pain or changes in sleep, will improve first, sometimes within the first few weeks of treatment. It usually takes at least four to six weeks before significant changes in mood occur. It is important to give SSRIs a chance to work before becoming discouraged, especially because you may notice side effects before you feel the full beneficial effects of the medicine (see SSRI Side Effects for more information about possible side effects of SSRIs).