SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) Citalopram (Cipramil), fluoxetine (Prozac), Fluvoxamine (Faverin), paroxetine (Seroxat) and sertraline (Lustral).


SSRIs are prescribed for depression, anxiety-related illnesses and other problems such as bulimia, obesity and alcoholism. The most commonly prescribed SSRI is Prozac.

The drugs work by preventing (inhibiting) the brain’s breakdown (the re-uptake) of serotonin, a ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter (a primary chemical used in the brain). In doing so, the drug increases serotonin levels therefore elevating the mood of the user. There are various types of SSRIs, with some, particularly Prozac also affecting levels of other ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters such as Norepinephrine and dopamine. The drugs’ ability to prevent re-uptake and so increase levels of serotonin is slow, around 14 days regular use. The drug is therefore seldom used on a recreational basis. Stopping the drug on the other hand can cause a fairly quick drop in serotonin levels, causing some users severe anxiety, particularly if they are still experiencing psychological problems. Users should therefore come off them gradually.


The drugs are fairly popular with GPs as a treatment for depression. Current prescriptions run at about 10 million year, many of which repeat prescriptions. The drug is a prescription only medicine regulated under the Medicines Act. SSRIs should not be taken with MAOIs, as they will increase serotonin to dangerously high levels, causing blackouts and sickness.