SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, include citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine and sertraline. Some of the brand names of these drugs include Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft, and they are some of the most common FDA-approved SSRIs that doctors use to treat depression and other disorders, according to Mayo Clinic.
SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, as Mayo Clinic reports. They alleviate the symptoms of depression by affecting the way neurotransmitters such as serotonin work in the brain. SSRIs prevent serotonin from being reabsorbed too quickly, thereby helping brain cells communicate better. This rebalancing of serotonin levels enhances mood, regulates hunger levels and positively affects sleep cycles.
The first antidepressants were developed in the 1950s and were called "tricyclic antidepressants," or TCAs, as described in the Primary Care Companion Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. While effective, TCAs also caused seizures and death at high doses. SSRIs were first developed in the 1970s as an alternative medication with fewer side effects than earlier medicines. In 1988, the first SSRI, fluoxetine, was introduced in the United States.
The side effects of SSRIs include weight gain, headaches, sexual dysfunction and suicidal thoughts, according to Everyday Health. SSRIs are only intended for use under the care of a physician and are most effective when used in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy.