Description: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are a category of newer antidepressants that include Prozac (fluoxetine), Celexa (citalopram), Zoloft and Lustral (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), and Lexapro and Cipralex (escitalopram). Symptoms of depression result when certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, get out of balance. SSRIs facilitate relief of symptoms of depression by increasing the quantity of serotonin available (Expert Opinions on Drug Metabolism and Toxicology “Understanding the pharmacogenetics of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors,” Aug 2014).
Serious Adverse Reactions to SSRIs
Serious adverse effects can occur, and these include hives, thoughts of suicide, agitation or restlessness, seizures, quick heartbeat, or nausea and vomiting. Talk to your doctor regarding the signs of suicide ideation. Young people are particularly vulnerable to suicide; therefore, these patients require close monitoring throughout the first 2 months of taking any antidepressant drug. Rare adverse effects include an increased risk of bleeding because of a lower capability of the blood to clot. This is because of a lower concentration of serotonin in platelets, which suggests an increased need for blood transfusion during or after surgery ( Expert Opinions on Drug Metabolism and Toxicology “Understanding the pharmacogenetics of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors” (Aug 2014). The use of SSRIs can result in a drop in a person’s sodium level, which might cause cell fluid accumulation, and is dangerous. Older individuals who take SSRIs should be monitored for this condition. Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to adverse side effects, and if you are pregnant, discuss this with your physician. Lastly, a rare adverse effect might occur if you are taking pain medications together with SSRIs. This adverse side effect, known as serotonin syndrome, is extremely serious and is an excellent reason to have your genetic makeup tested for variations in the genes that metabolize SSRIs (Current Drug Safety “Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors and Hyponatremia in Acutely Medically-Ill Inpatients,” Nov 2016).
Common SSRI Side Effects
Since SSRIs are a newer category of antidepressants, scientists believed that the side effects would be less than those of the older antidepressants, the tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Although the SSRIs typically have higher safety and tolerability than the older agents, SSRIs are not without adverse effects. Typical side effects from SSRIs include somnolence, nausea, dry mouth, insomnia, diarrhea, nervousness or agitation, dizziness and sexual issues. Usually, the advantages of the medication outweigh the risks, and many patients improve with SSRI pharmacotherapy (Expert Opinions on Drug Metabolism and Toxicology “Understanding the pharmacogenetics of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors,” Aug 2014).
Know Your Risk with the Rxight® Genetic Test
Genetic variations among people affect the way medications are metabolized by enzymes in your body. This knowledge is the basis for the field of pharmacogenetics in which gene sequence variation is measured through simple genetic testing by MD Labs using its comprehensive pharmacogenetic test Rxight®, which works by profiling your genetic disposition to adverse drug reactions for SSRIs and over two hundred different prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. SSRI side effects can be minimized by making certain that the proper dose is prescribed. Based on the results of the Rxight® gene sequence variation test, your provider has the ability to pinpoint the optimal dosage of an SSRI or other medications that have the greatest potential to lead to treatment success. Genetic testing using Rxight® lays the groundwork for precise, personalized care that is based on your genetic makeup. Pharmacogenetics test results optimize the advantages of SSRIs and different medications and reduce time and expense and unnecessary suffering from side effects. Ask your provider today to prescribe Rxight® – the foremost, most comprehensive solution to avoiding adverse drug reactions or, conversely, medication inefficacy, optimizing individualized patient care.
Contributors to this Article:
Michael Sapko, MD, PhD; Deborah Kallick, PhD, Medicinal Chemistry