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Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Borderline Personality Disorder

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) balance brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Balancing these brain chemicals can relieve symptoms of borderline personality disorder such as irritability, anger, impulsivity (acting without thinking), and depression.1

Some examples of SSRIs that may be used to treat borderline personality disorder are:

  • Citalopram (such as Celexa).
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro).
  • Fluoxetine (such as Prozac).
  • Fluvoxamine (such as Luvox).
  • Paroxetine (Paxil).
  • Sertraline (Zoloft).

Side effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors include:

  • Nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, or weight gain.
  • Anxiety or irritability.
  • Problems sleeping or drowsiness.
  • Loss of sexual desire or ability.
  • Headaches or dizziness.

SSRIs can take several weeks to start working, but they may work sooner.

Never suddenly stop taking antidepressants. Many antidepressants should be tapered off slowly and only under the supervision of a doctor. Abruptly stopping antidepressant medicines can cause negative side effects or a return of symptoms of borderline personality disorder.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory on antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide. Talk with your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide.

Taking triptans, used for headaches, with SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or SNRIs (selective serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) can cause a very rare but serious condition called serotonin syndrome.

Citations

  1. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (2009). Borderline personality disorder: Treatment and management. London: National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence (NICE). Available online: http://publications.nice.org.uk/borderline-personality-disorder-cg78.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised March 8, 2013

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