SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft antidepressant tablets

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An SSRI is a type of antidepressant sometimes used in combination with other medications to treat bipolar depression.

Let's take examine a list of SSRIs and understand how they are used in bipolar disorder.

What Are SSRIs?

SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are a class of antidepressants that increase the amount of the neurotransmitter serotonin available in the brain, which has been shown to be effective in the treatment of depressive disorders including bipolar depression.

List of SSRIs

A list of SSRIs is below, shown with the brand name followed by a generic name in parentheses.

When SSRIs Are Used in Bipolar Disorder

According to the American Psychiatric Association, using an antidepressant therapy alone to treat bipolar depression is not recommended. This is because using antidepressants, like SSRIs, to treat bipolar depression has been linked to triggering mania and rapid cycling. There is also some scientific debate that antidepressants are simply not beneficial in treating bipolar depression—although this is controversial.

That being said, many people with bipolar depression are prescribed antidepressants, especially if they have responded well before to antidepressants, if their depression is severe, or if they are not responding to mood-stabilizing medications alone.

For instance, in the latter case, if a person with bipolar depression is not responding to lithium or lamotrigine—mood-stabilizing medications—than their doctor may add on an antidepressant, like Paxil (paroxetine).

What Happens When I Stop An SSRI?

Here is a look at the causes and symptoms of SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome, the uncomfortable reaction some people have to cut down or quit certain types of antidepressants.

Here are tips for both pill and capsule handling to ease the effects of lowering your dosage or discontinuing an SSRI antidepressant medication—when a too-abrupt transition could cause troubling symptoms.

What Should I Do?

If you have bipolar depression and you are taking an SSRI, be sure to discuss with your doctor the potential side effects, and also the signs of a manic episode and rapid cycling. It's important you take your medication, as prescribed. Do not stop your medication without consulting your doctor—this is for your safety and well-being.

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