What drugs increase serotonin levels very quickly

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI)

SSRIs help against depression

Diseases from the depressive type are nowadays v. a. more and more common in industrialized nations. In addition to psychotherapeutic methods, drugs help to alleviate the symptoms, end a phase of the disease and prevent another flare-up. These so-called antidepressants also include the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors - SSRIs for short.

Antidepressants: SSRI group of active substances

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a group of drugs that belong to the group of antidepressants. they are coming in severe depressive moods or depression are used. Further areas of application are Obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks as well as others Anxiety disorders.

The most important active ingredients in SSRIs include:

  • Citalopram
  • Fluoxetine
  • Fluvomaxine
  • Paroxetine
  • Sertraline
  • Trazodaon

Medicines from this group of active ingredients have an anti-anxiety and mood-enhancing effect. There are preparations that activate the drive and the psyche and others that have a rather depressing effect.

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The drug setting for those suffering from depression is very complex and requires intensive monitoring by a doctor, in the best case by a psychiatrist.

Mode of action of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

One of the causes of depression is a Deficiency of certain messenger substances (neurotransmitters)that are involved in information transmission processes in the brain. These include:

Our body needs neurotransmitters to transmit electrical stimuli from one nerve to another. When scientists realized that the messenger substance serotonin plays an important role in the development of depression, the SSRI was developed. These prevent the nerve cell from taking up the messenger substance serotonin again. The agents block reuptake by occupying the receptors. Serotin remains in the synaptic cleft instead of reaching the brain cells. This increases the serotonin concentration in the tissue fluid of the brain and more free serotonin is available for the transmission of nerve signals. This has a positive influence on the depression and leads to a lightening of the mood.

Transmission of nerve signals

In order to transmit a nerve signal from one nerve to another, the terminal of the irritated nerve releases a messenger substance, for example serotonin, at the transition to its neighboring nerve. As a result, the body triggers an electrical signal that is passed on. When the released messenger substance has fulfilled its task of signal transmission, the human organism then breaks it down or takes it back into the nerve cell that released it.

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The human organism transmits neurological signals and information to interfaces between individual nerve cells. Experts refer to these interfaces as synapses. They consist of the ends of two nerves and a small gap, the synaptic gap. Messenger substances channel signals from one nerve end to the other through the synaptic gap by binding to receptors on the second nerve end after a stimulus from the first nerve cell. Antidepressants intervene in the mechanisms of the action of messenger substances on the brain cells. In some preparations, many active ingredients act on several receptors at the same time. Not so with the SSRI. The term “selective” in their name comes from the fact that this group of active substances binds exclusively to the serotonin receptor. Other monoamine transporters do not affect these drugs.

Areas of application of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

Doctors prescribe SSRIs to treat:

  • Major Depression Episodes
  • Major Depression Episodes Prevention
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • social anxiety disorder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Side effects of SSRIs

When SSRIs come mostly at the beginning of treatment often Side effects such as:

To the occasionally Occurring side effects include with this group of active ingredients:

  • insomnia
  • dizziness
  • Restlessness
  • sexual dysfunction such as erectile dysfunction or decreased libido

In contrast to other groups of active ingredients, there are practically no side effects on the cardiovascular system with antidepressants from the SSRI group. This also applies to side effects such as impaired vision, reduced tear production or dilated pupils.

Side effects of stopping SSRIs

Treatment with SSRIs should only be stopped slowly in the form of a dose reduction over several weeks and months under the supervision of the doctor. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms with various active ingredients, such as:

  • nausea
  • a headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Sensory disturbances
  • Anxiety

Interactions of SSRIs

If you take SSRIs together with drugs from the active substance group of the triptans or the monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), it can lead to a life-threatening one Serotonin Syndrome. These two groups of active ingredients act in a similar way to the messenger substance serotonin and intensify its effect.

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If SSRIs are taken together with triptans and / or MAO inhibitors and symptoms such as restlessness, delusions, movement disorders, tremors, rapid heartbeat, sweating, fever, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea occur, a doctor should be consulted immediately. Serotonin syndrome can be present, which is life-threatening.

Also, never take SSRIs with St. John's wort or clomipramine. This also leads to toxic serotonin concentrations in the central nervous system.

Alternative preparations to SSRIs

In addition to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors often also come during therapy Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake agent (SNRI) for use. These preparations specifically inhibit the re-uptake of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine in the nerve cells so that it has a positive effect on the brain for longer. Side effects of the treatment are Cardiovascular complaints, Headachezen, Nausea and Digestive problems.

Also MAOIs or. tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants are among the drugs used to treat depression. MAOIs prevent the breakdown of certain neurotransmitters, so these are present in a higher concentration. Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants solve anxiety and calm down.

In order to bridge the time it takes for the drugs described above to work, the doctor often prescribes Benzodiazepines. These remedies soothe and promote sleep.

If the mood is slightly ill, it is also possible to give over-the-counter drugs. Preparations with Johannis herbs are among the common drugs here.

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The effectiveness of St. John's wort has been scientifically proven for mild to moderate depression. The substances found in St. John's wort are decisive for the mood-enhancing effect Hypericin and Hyperforin. The advantage of the herbal antidepressant lies in its good tolerance.


Our pages are for your information only and are not a substitute for diagnosis and treatment by the doctor.

For information on risks and side effects, read the package insert and ask your doctor or pharmacist.

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As of: 24.11.2020

For reasons of better legibility, the male form is used in the text for personal names. It goes without saying, however, that the information relates to members of both sexes.