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The Working of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs

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Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors are a class of drug that are used mainly in the treatment of depression but also effectively address other conditions, such as generalised anxiety disorder, social phobia, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, etc. The terms ‘reuptake’ and ‘selective’ make SSRIs a little less easily understood. Let us take a look at how SSRIs function to be able to understand why this class of psychotropic compound forms a part of effective artillery in treatment of mental conditions.

Reuptake: Messages in our brain are carried by brain cells aka neurons. Each neuron has projections from its outer membrane (sheath) called dendrites. The place/gap where dendrites of one neuron end and the other begins is called a synapse. To pass a message, the dendrites of a neuron release serotonin, a neurotransmitter, into the synapse. This activates the receptors of the next neuron, which receives this message before relaying it on to the next neuron. After serotonin has been released into the synaptic cleft and the post-synaptic neuron has been activated, the pre-synaptic neuron reuptakes or reabsorbs the released serotonin from the synaptic gap through serotonin transporters (SERTs). This is done, as the reuptake serotonin serves as a feedback sensor for the pre-synaptic neuron.

Selective: SSRIs selectively inhibit the reuptake pumps for serotonin only and do not affect or influence other neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, tyramine, melatonin or norepinephrine, etc. This gives SSRIs its lesser number and lesser intense side effects in comparison with other antidepressants of the tricyclic family.

Depression and some other psychological conditions are believed to be triggered by low serotonin levels in the brain, either because of the low volume serotonin release by neurons or overactive reuptake inhibitors. It may also be caused by the non-activation of the receptor neuron at the synapse on release of serotonin. These are few amongst the complex many reasons for psychological states to occur.

As the SERT transporters and reuptake pumps are inhibited from reuptake of the serotonin from the synapse by the SSRIs, more serotonin is available and for longer per release from the pre-synaptic neuron, thus helping the post-synaptic neuron recognize this and be stimulated as a result, countering the primary reason for the onset of depression and similar other psychological conditions. However, the efficacy of SSRIs depends on genetic make-up of the patient, and thus, the response time, etcetera may vary from person to person.

Note: SSRIs are prescription drugs and are to be taken only if prescribed by your doctor and with close monitoring.

Mamta Singh is a published author, entrepreneur and a seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites. Mamta runs her own popular blog on migraines in women and holistic health. Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business, and is presently enrolled as a student of Holistic Healing Therapy from the U.K. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation. Link: http://www.migrainingjenny.wordpress.com and http://www.footstrike.wordpress.com

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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