Professor Thomas Terleph

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Course Name

Senior Seminar in Biology

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Original Publication Date

November 29, 2017

Publication Date



Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the most debilitating mental illness worldwide. Primary treatment of MDD is the administration of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Deemed as the safest psychotropic drug thus far, SSRIs have been shown to reduce depressive symptoms and enhance the quality of life in youth, adult and geriatric populations. However, with rising numbers of individuals taking maintenance doses of SSRIs for five or more years, researchers are beginning to discover severe adverse side effects associated with prolonged treatment. The overall risks of long-term SSRI therapy include tachyphylaxis, tardive dysphoria, structural neurological abnormalities and suicide. SSRIs also have the potential to exacerbate depressive symptoms and leave patients in a paradoxical state. The equivocal efficacy of SSRIs can be traced back to ambiguous diagnostic methods, subjective symptom rating scales and the nation’s unhealthy reliance on cost-effective medication therapies. A comparison of short-term and long-term potency, as well as longitudinal consequences, reveals that SSRIs are not as efficacious in the treatment of depression as researchers once believed them to be.

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