Should You Take Vitamin Supplements When You Are Under Treatment With An SSRI Anti Depressant Drug?

SSRI drugs are used mainly in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders though they also used for some off-label indications such as pre-menstrual disorders, and menopausal and post-menopause problems. The term ‘SSRI’ is abbreviation for ‘selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor’. Some of the common SSRI dugs are Lexapro, Celexa, Paxil, Zoloft, and Effexor among others.

How they act: SSRIs act by restoring balance of serotonin in the brain cells. Serotonin is the mood-influencing neurotransmitter that flows through brain cells. The fact that a person is suffering from depression or an anxiety disorder means the serotonin flow in the brain is not in a state of balance. By restoring balance of serotonin, the person’s mood starts getting better and he feels less depressed or less anxious.

Toxicity: SSRIs have a safe toxicity profile in comparison to other anti-depressants such as tricyclics, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and many others. SSRIs do come with side-effects, some of which can be pretty severe, but few are life-threatening in an overwhelming majority of cases. Most side-effects of SSRIs are manageable and fade away as treatment is tapered off. Nevertheless, caution must be exercised over the essential nutritional supplements – such as vitamins — one takes in course of treatment with an SSRI.

Vitamins and SSRIs: It is best to depend on natural vitamins available through regular food such as milk, peas, spinach, avocado, etc. These are foods that provide essential nutrients to the body on a daily basis. However, to depend only on food for all essential nutrients requires a level of expertise in nutritional matters, which is difficult for most people to access. Therefore, it is understandable if patients under an SSRI treatment feel the need for artificial vitamin supplements: as it is, weakness is often a symptom of depression and anxiety disorders.

There is a large number of multi-vitamin complex products available in the US market. Many of them contain added synthetic chemicals, which again is difficult for you to know. So, as a matter of rule, abide by the following:

* Ensure there is no Vitamin K in the multi-vitamin complex. It is well-established that excess of Vitamin K in the body worsens the symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders.

* Ensure that all B-vitamins that you take through an artificial medicine add up to slightly LESS than the minimum recommended for a day. Most B-vitamins stimulate the central nervous system, while SSRI sedates it; so here is a conflict in their respective actions.

* If the multi-vitamin complex contains Vitamin B3, make sure it is niacinamide, and not niacine. The latter can aggravate your problem and take it back to what it was when you started the SSRI treatment.

Conclusion: It is best to avoid artificial, synthetic nutritional supplements when you are under treatment for depression and anxiety problems. However, if you must take multi-vitamin supplements (to combat the weakness that often is a symptom of the depression and anxiety), make be careful about Vitamin K, the B-vitamins as indicated above.