These drugs were developed for the pharmacological treatment of depressive disorders. They proved to be helpful for other psychiatric disorders and behavioural problems like obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, self-cutting, eating disorders like bulimia nervosa and impulsive problems. They can also be used in the treatment of praemenstrual dysphoric disorders or stress-related problems.
Some medicines in this group: Fluoxetin, Fontex, Prozac, Citalopram, Cipramil, Paroxit, Seroxat, Sertralin, Zoloft, Fluvoxamin, Fevarin. They are partly similar also with Anafranil (Klomipramin).
SSRI help by enhancing the availability of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is important for wellbeing and positive mood. They can help stop worrying or repetitive (obsessive and/or compulsive) thoughts and behaviors and lower states of anxiety.
However it takes at least one to two weeks until the medicine achieves these positive effects for the patient.
SSRI medicines have been found to be a help for a surprisingly large number of problems, such as depression, jealousy, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and others.
They do have side effects, which is a problem for some people trying them. Because of this, sometimes psychotherapy is tried first. Especially the side effect of difficulty of getting orgasm for many SSRI users is a common cause why people discontinue using SSRI medicines. But in other cases, a combination of SSRIs and psychotherapy are needed.
Clomipramine is in some cases more effective, but has more side effects and is therefore not include in the SSRI group of medicines.