Patient & Family Education Materials

Start over with a New Search

Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors

Generic name Brand name
___ citalopram HBR Celexa®
___ fluoxetine hydrochloride Prozac®
___ fluvoxamine maleate Luvox®
___ paroxetine hydrochloride Paxil®
___ sertraline hydrochloride Zoloft®

How does this medicine work?

Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are used for many conditions including anxiety, bulimia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

SSRIs regulate the mood by increasing the available amount of the brain chemical serotonin. SSRIs are chemically different from other antidepressants.

SSRIs may take 6 to 8 weeks to build up in the body and produce their fullest effect.

How should I give it?

Most of these medicines come in pill form. Some are available as a liquid. Give it at regular times every day, to keep a steady level in the bloodstream.
Give this medicine exactly as prescribed. Check with your doctor or nurse practitioner before stopping this medicine.

___ If using the liquid form, shake well right before using. Draw up the correct amount in the medicine dropper or oral syringe. Give a small squirt of the medicine inside the cheek. To avoid choking, let your child swallow each squirt before giving more.

___For children who cannot swallow pills:

  • If it is a tablet, crush it between 2 spoons, inside a plastic bag, or in folded paper.
  • If it is a capsule, open it.
  • Mix the powder with a very small amount (about 1 teaspoon) of soft food, such as applesauce, chocolate syrup, ice cream, jelly, or yogurt. Make sure your child takes all of the mixture.

Are there any precautions about food or other medicines?

This medicine may be given with food to prevent stomach upset. Follow any other directions given by your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Certain medicines interact with SSRIs. Check with the doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist before giving any other prescription or non-prescription medicines, herbs, or vitamins.

What should I do if a dose is missed?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember, unless it is less than 6 hours before the next dose. In that case, skip the missed dose and continue with the regular schedule. Never give a double dose.

If your child misses two doses, call the clinic. If your child vomits within 30 minutes after a dose, please call the clinic for instructions.

What are the side effects?


  • headache
  • decreased appetite
  • dry mouth
  • trouble sleeping
  • nervousness
  • nausea, diarrhea, cramps


  • shaky
  • bad temper
  • weight loss
  • dizzy
  • muscle twitching
  • constipation

When should I call the clinic?

  • depression worsens, suicidal thinking
  • rash, itching
  • fever
  • joint pain
  • vision changes (blurred vision)
  • vomiting (if due to this medicine)
  • very dizzy
  • shaky, agitated
  • chest pain, irregular heartbeat
  • seizures
  • hallucinations

What else do I need to know?

You and your child should know the names of all the medicines he or she is taking. Share this information with anyone involved in your child's care. Please bring the medicine container when your child comes to the clinic or emergency department.

Always make sure you have enough medicine on hand. Each time you refill your prescription, check to see how many refills are left. If no refills are left, the pharmacy will need 2 or 3 days to contact the clinic to renew the prescription.

Check the label and expiration date before giving each dose. Ask your pharmacist what to do with outdated or unused medicines. If there is no "take-back" program empty them into the trash.

Store all medicines in their original container and away from direct sunlight or heat. Do not store in humid places such as the bathroom. Keep them out of children's reach, locked up if possible.

If too much or the wrong kind of medicine is taken, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. If your child is unconscious or has a seizure, call 911.


This is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call your clinic or pharmacy.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Last reviewed 8/2015 

Back To Top

This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

© 2023 Children's Minnesota