Besides demonstrated efficacy, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) hold other advantages over earlier antidepressants such as greater tolerability and a wider range of clinical applications. However, there is a growing body of clinical evidence which suggests that SSRIs could, in some cases, be associated with a withdrawal reaction upon cessation of regular use. In addition to sensory and gastrointestinal-related symptoms, the somatic symptoms of the SSRI discontinuation syndrome include dizziness, lethargy, and sleep disturbances. Psychological symptoms have also been documented, usually developing within 1-7 days following SSRI discontinuation. The characteristics of the discontinuation syndrome have been linked to the half-life of a given SSRI, with a greater number of reports emerging from paroxetine compared to other SSRIs. However, many aspects of the neurobiology of the SSRI discontinuation syndrome (or SSRI withdrawal syndrome) remain unresolved. Following a comprehensive overview of the clinical evidence, we will discuss the underlying pathophysiology of the SSRI discontinuation syndrome and comment on the use of animal models to better understand this condition.
Keywords: SSRI discontinuation syndrome; SSRI withdrawal syndrome; animal models; antidepressant treatment; clinical evidence; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor; serotonin.