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How It Works
SSRIs are a type of medicine that can restore the balance of certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. This may help relieve physical and emotional symptoms of PMS. SSRIs are also used to treat
anxiety, menopause hot flashes, and
Why It Is Used
SSRIs are often the first-choice
medicine for treating severe
premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and
premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) symptoms,
including depression, anxiety, irritability, anger, mood swings, breast
tenderness, bloating, headache, and joint and muscle pain.
many women, SSRI medicine need only be taken during the premenstrual phase,
generally 2 weeks before the start of menstrual bleeding.
How Well It Works
SSRIs may help relieve the emotional and physical PMS and PMDD symptoms.1 SSRI therapy can bring relief within a few days of starting
Side effects from SSRI treatment are
usually not serious. But these side effects are fairly common, and they are why
some people stop taking SSRI medicine. Some side
effects will tend to improve over several weeks. SSRI side effects can
- Nausea, appetite changes, weight loss.
- Insomnia, fatigue.
- Difficulty with sexual desire, arousal,
- Rash (rare).
- Weight gain (rare) with long-term
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
FDA Advisories. The U.S. Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) has issued:
advisory on antidepressant medicines and the risk of
suicide. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines.
Instead, a person taking an antidepressant should be watched for
warning signs of suicide. This is especially important
at the beginning of treatment or when doses are changed.
- A warning about taking triptans, used for headaches, with SSRIs
(selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or SNRIs (selective
serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). Taking these medicines together
can cause a very rare but serious condition called serotonin syndrome.
What To Think About
Pregnancy. If you are trying to get
pregnant, talk to your doctor about whether an SSRI is safe. Women who take an SSRI during pregnancy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects.
When considering SSRI treatment,
compare possible SSRI benefits and effectiveness with possible side effects and
costs of treatment. You can discuss this with your doctor.
You can take a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
(SSRI) by mouth every day of the month. Or you can take an SSRI daily between
the day you ovulate and the start of your period (usually about 2
SSRI treatment is not recommended if you have a seizure disorder or a
bipolar disorder). These conditions can be made worse
by an SSRI.
bleeding more likely in the upper gastrointestinal tract (stomach and
esophagus). Taking SSRIs with NSAIDs (such as Aleve or Advil) makes bleeding
even more likely. Taking medicines that control acid in the stomach may
As with any medicine,
some medicines can adversely interact with an SSRI. Discuss your medicine and
dietary supplement use with your doctor before trying an
When taking an SSRI continuously, never stop taking it abruptly. The long-term use of an SSRI should be tapered off
slowly and only under the supervision of a health professional. Abruptly
stopping SSRI medicines can cause flu-like symptoms, headaches, nervousness,
anxiety, or insomnia.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Kwan I, Onwude JL (2009). Premenstrual syndrome, search date July 2009. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: