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Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI)

Drug Class: Commonly Known As: Category:
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) lexapro, prozac, seroxat, zoloft, faverin Children, Adult

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) - What is it for

This medicine belongs to a class of antidepressants known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).

It is used to treat conditions such as:

  • Low mood (depression)
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Eating disorders

It may be given to you for other reasons. Do check with your doctor what you are taking this for.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) - Side Effects, Precautions, and Contraindications

What side effects can Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) cause?

All medicines may cause side effects. However, many people do not experience them.

Most of the side effects listed here will improve with time. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if they persist, become bothersome or worsen.

 

Side effectsWhat to do about it
Poor appetite, nausea, vomitingTake this medicine after meals. Eat small but frequent meals to minimize bloating after a meal. Avoid food that is too rich, spicy or has strong smells.
DiarrhoeaMake sure you remain well hydrated by drinking plenty of water
Constipation

Increase your intake of fluids and include more fibre (vegetables and fruits) in your diet. Incorporate some exercise in your daily routine.

Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you require any laxatives.

Dry mouthSip water regularly. Suck on sugar-free sweets. Avoid caffeine as it may worsen dry mouth. Sucking on ice chips may help alleviate this symptom.
HeadacheConsult your doctor or pharmacist if you need any painkillers
Drowsiness

Do not drive or operate any machinery. See how this medicine affects you first.

Discuss with your doctor if you can take your medicine at a different time of the day. 

DizzinessGet up slowly from a lying or sitting position
Difficulty sleeping

Avoid daytime naps. Limit caffeine intake. Keep a regular sleeping schedule. Instead of looking at electronic screens before bedtime, choose other relaxing activities such as reading a book or listening to calm music.

Discuss with your doctor if you can take your medicine at a different time of the day. 

Nervousness and anxiousnessUsually occurs at the beginning of treatment and subsides with time. Avoid caffeine intake, and try to maintain a regular and healthy diet and sleeping schedule. Consult your doctor if symptoms do not subside or worsen.
Reduced sexual drive or abilityConsult your doctor if it becomes bothersome

 

Serious side effects

Seek medical help as soon as possible if you have any of the following signs or symptoms.

  • Develop new or worsening thoughts of self-harm or low mood including nervousness and restlessness.
  • Allergy such as rashes, swelling of lips/face/throat, difficulty breathing
  • Develop any unusual palpitations or heart rate.
  • A condition known as Serotonin Syndrome may occur rarely. This may cause symptoms which include but are not limited to agitation, confusion, hallucinations, fever, abnormal heartbeat, flushing, shivering and sweating.

Consult your doctor if you need further information regarding this.

 

Take note that the side effects listed here are not exhaustive. Do seek medical attention if you have other symptoms that you think may be related to this medicine.

Before taking Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI), what precautions must I follow?

Tell your doctor before starting this medicine if you have:

  • Drug allergies.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions such as fits (seizures), bipolar disorders or mania (unusually high or excited mood, being much more active or having more energy than usual), and low sodium levels.
  • Whether you are taking any other medicines, supplements or traditional medicines, some of them may affect how this medication works. Inform your doctor if you have taken or intend to take any such medicines.
  • If you have taken any other antidepressants in the last 2 weeks.
  • For women: tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breast-feeding or have plans to become pregnant. If you are pregnant and/or breastfeeding, your doctor would have discussed the potential benefits and side-effects of continueing the drug with you but should you have further questions or concerns, do consult your doctor.

What food or medicine must I avoid when I take Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI)?

​Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you want to take or give any other medicines, supplements or herbal products.

If you or your child (patient) sees another doctor, inform him that this medication is currently prescribed before he prescribes any other medications.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) - Dosage and How to Use

How should Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) be used?

Take this medicine exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the instructions on the medicine label or as advised by the pharmacist.

Take this medicine with or without food. Swallow tablets or capsules whole with a glass of water. If unable to swallow you may crush the tablet or open up the capsule to mix the powder in a small amount of water before administering.

This medicine may not have an effect immediately. It may take up to a few weeks before this medicine can exert its full effects. Continue taking it regularly to benefit from it.

Do not stop taking this medicine even after you feel better. Your symptoms may return if this medicine is stopped too early. Check with your doctor on the duration of treatment that is suitable for you.

Do not stop taking the medicine abruptly or change the dose without consulting your doctor. You may experience unpleasant side effects if this medicine is stopped suddenly.

Avoid taking alcohol while you are on this medicine.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

 

To continue to gain benefit from this medicine you must take it daily. Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the next one at your usual timing. Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.

What should I do if I overdose?

If you take more than the dose prescribed to you by your doctor, consult your doctor or health care professional immediately

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) - Handling

How should I handle Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) safely?

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) - Storage

How should I store Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI)?

Keep away from children;#Keep in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight;#Store at room temperature;#

How should I dispose of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) safely?

 

 Throw away any unused or expired medicines. Inform your medical professional with respect to how to safely dispose of any excess medicines/expired medicines.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) - Additional Information

What are the things I need to know or look out for while on this medication?

  • Avoid driving or any other activities that requires concentration until you see how this drug affects you
  • Inform your other healthcare providers that you are taking this medicine as well.
  • Do not share your medicines with others
  • Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about your medication
  • Updated on Friday, November 2, 2018
  • Article contributed by KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Changi General Hospital KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Changi General Hospital

    The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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