Selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors: an update

Harv Rev Psychiatry. 1999 Jul-Aug;7(2):69-84.


Selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including fluoxetine, sertraline, paroxetine, fluvoxamine, and citalopram, represent an important advance in the pharmacotherapy of mood and other disorders. They are chemically unrelated to tricyclic, heterocyclic, and other first-generation antidepressants. SSRIs are the treatment of choice for many indications, including major depression, dysthymia, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, because of their efficacy, good side-effect profile, tolerability, and safety in overdose, as well as patient compliance. A review of the literature was conducted using Medline and the terms "SSRIs," "fluoxetine," "sertraline," "paroxetine," "fluvoxamine," and "citalopram." Articles were limited to those published in English within the last 15 years. The search revealed that indications for antidepressants include unipolar depression, dysthymia, bipolar depression, treatment-resistant depression, depression in the medically ill, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, social phobia, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. One SSRI, fluoxetine, has demonstrated safety in pregnancy. Side effects of SSRIs include gastrointestinal disturbances, headache, sedation, insomnia, activation, weight gain, impaired memory, excessive perspiration, paresthesia, and sexual dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Drug Interactions
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation / drug effects
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Panic Disorder / drug therapy
  • Phobic Disorders / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors