Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most common prescribed antidepressants. Millions of Americans suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. SSRIs can help to improve a wide variety of these conditions, which is why they are the most common medications prescribed.
How SSRIs Work
SSRIs work by blocking the receptor in the brain that absorbs serotonin, the chemical known to influence mood. They markedly improve behaviour, outlook, and mood in those who suffer from depression. SSRIs relieve depression by affecting neurotransmitters (naturally occurring chemical messengers), which are used to communicate between brain cells. SSRIs block the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. By changing the balance of serotonin levels, this seems to help the brain cells to send and receive chemical messages, which in turn boosts your mood. Antidepressants work by changing the levels of one or more of these neurotransmitters. The reason SSRIs all called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors is because they seem to only primarily affect serotonin and not other neurotransmitters.
SSRIs approved and used to treat depression are:
Side Effects of SSRIs
SSRIs work in similar ways and often the side effects are similar. However, since each SSRIs chemical makeup is different, one may affect you differently than another. Side effects may go away after the first few weeks of treatment, but if the side effects are too much or troubling to you, consult with your family physician before you stop taking any of your medications.
Side effects of SSRIs may include the following:
- Dry mouth
- Weight loss or gain
- Nervousness, restlessness, or agitation
- Reduced sexual desire or difficulty attaining orgasm or the inability to maintain an erection (erectile dysfunction)
There will also be other side effects that are specific to the SSRI prescribed to you, so talk to your doctor, pharmacist, and read the package insert so you are aware of any and all side effects related to your SSRI.
SSRI Birth Defects and Lawsuits
Studies have shown that SSRI side effects may include serious birth defects and health problems for infants. SSRI cardiac and non cardiac birth defects may include:
- Persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN): The baby is unable to adapt to breathing outside the womb.
- Septal defect (atrial and ventricular): A hole develops in the wall of the infant’s heart leading to improper blood circulation which causes the heart to work harder to pump blood.
- Hypoplastic left heart: The left side of the infant’s heart does not fully develop. The result of this can lead to sudden death or the infant may require a heart transplant and/or numerous surgeries as they age.
- Hypoplastic left heart: The right side of the infant’s heart does not fully develop. The result of this can lead to sudden death or the infant may require a heart transplant and/or numerous surgeries as they age.
- Cleft palate: Cleft palate occurs when the separate parts of the skull that form the roof of the mouth do not join properly. This results in problems feeding, breathing, and speaking.
- Club feet: Club feet occur when the infants joints, bones, muscles, and blood vessels develop abnormal, which results in the foot being turned inward and downward causing problems with mobility.
- Spina bifida: Spina bifida occurs when the spinal cord and backbone don’t close develop properly, allowing part of the spinal cord to protrude through the opening. The section of the spinal cord that is affected does not have normal function, which can lead to disability.
If you took SSRI antidepressant medication during your pregnancy and your baby has suffered any type of birth defect contact a lawyer experienced in birth defect lawsuits. You may qualify for compensation awarded through an SSRI birth defect lawsuit.