Update on the Mechanism of Action of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

Time to read: 4 minutes

The serotonergic hypothesis of depression postulated that diminished activity of serotonin pathways plays a causal role in the pathophysiology of depression. This hypothesis led to the development of SSRIs and SNRIs in the treatment of depression.

However, the serotonergic hypothesis was not conclusively substantiated, and the pathogenesis of depression has moved beyond the simplistic serotonergic hypothesis of depression.

Both SSRIs and SNRIs are effective medications in the treatment of depression. [Cipriani Network Meta-analysis]

See Simplified guide on antidepressants and Guidelines on the management of depression. 

The hypothesis has now moved towards recognising the role of serotonin and its complex actions at cellular and molecular levels.

Here we describe the key postulated mechanisms of action of SSRIs.

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