Most people who have taken an SSRI can attest to the drug’s ability to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety, but these medications also come with some side effects. Some patients see a reduction in their depressive or anxious symptoms after just a few weeks on SSRIs, while others experience few benefits and experience negative effects that last long after discontinuing the drug. The good news is that most of the side effects of SSRIs are mild and tend to fade over time. However, there are some potential risks associated with taking this type of medication. Some people find that the side effects of SSRIs are far more severe — and may even make their depression worse. Let’s take a look at some of the negative side effects of SSRIs:
Tiredness, Drowsiness and Fatigue
Most people who take SSRIs experience some degree of tiredness and fatigue as a side effect. Although this side effect is common, it can seriously impact a person’s daily functioning. Fatigue is one of the most common complaints associated with depression, but SSRIs can really exacerbate this problem. SSRIs influence neurotransmitters that regulate energy levels and wakefulness. This can lead to excessive feelings of exhaustion and a significant reduction in productivity. Some people may experience a sleepiness that lasts throughout the day. If you’re experiencing symptoms of drowsiness or excessive fatigue, you may need to reduce your dosage or switch to a different SSRI. Doctors can often adjust a person’s dosage or switch their SSRI prescription to reduce or eliminate these side effects. Fatigue and drowsiness usually improve within two weeks of initiating treatment with an SSRI.
You may be able to lose some weight, but you may gain some, too. There are several factors that affect how SSRIs affect a person’s weight, including dosage and length of treatment. Most people who take SSRIs experience some degree of weight gain. The average increase in weight is about 5–10 pounds, but it may be more for some people. Some estimates say that a quarter of people taking SSRIs gain more than 10 pounds.
Sexual Dysfunction in Men and Women
SSRIs may significantly reduce a person’s libido and ability to achieve orgasm. This is a problem that both men and women taking SSRIs can experience. SSRIs can cause a variety of sexual side effects. They may reduce your interest in sex, make it harder to become aroused, decrease the intensity of orgasm, or cause your orgasms to feel less pleasurable. SSRIs may also cause you to experience problems with orgasm, including delayed orgasm or decreased intensity.
SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome (SDS)
SSRIs work by blocking serotonin receptors in the brain. This creates a buildup of serotonin, which makes a person feel calm, relaxed, and less anxious. When you stop taking SSRIs, your brain will try to get rid of the excess serotonin, but it will also have less serotonin overall. This can lead to a serious side effect called SSRI discontinuation syndrome (SDS). SDS is the most common withdrawal side effect associated with SSRI use. It can occur when a person stops taking their medication after a few weeks or months, when they are supposed to stay on the medication for longer. SDS may cause a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Trouble sleeping
SDS may last for a few weeks or months, and it may significantly disrupt your daily functioning. SDS is often treated with a temporary dosage increase, but it may require treatment with antidepressant medication to ensure that it does not lead to a relapse of depression or anxiety.
Other Side Effects of SSRIs
SSRIs can have a variety of other side effects, including dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision, and muscle aches. They may also cause you to experience changes in your blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar levels, and/or weight. Some people have also reported seeing changes in their appetite and/or weight after taking SSRIs. SSRIs can also cause a variety of cognitive side effects, including a reduction in your ability to focus, concentrate, and/or pay attention. They may also increase your risk of experiencing a seizure. People who are taking SSRIs are also more likely to experience a fall or injury.
TMS Therapy for Treatment-Resistant Depression at Lucid Wellness Center
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive procedure that utilizes magnetic pulses to stimulate the nerve cells in the brain and regulate mood. TMS is most commonly used to treat people with severe depression who have not responded well to other treatments, including SSRIs and atypical antidepressants. TMS is a safe and effective treatment for mood disorders, including major depression and anxiety. It is also a treatment option for people who have not responded well to other treatments. At Lucid Wellness Center, we offer TMS therapy to treat depression in Los Angeles. Schedule an appointment today to learn more and start treatment as soon as possible.