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A 31-year-old male asked:

psychiatry: enough serotonin in the brain helps human sleep, however, taking ssri to increase serotonin causes insomnia if taken before sleep. why?

3 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Matthew Smith
Psychiatry 40 years experience
Complicated: This is a very complicated neurotransmitter. To give an example, there are over thirty different types of receptors -- meaning that it can do over thirty types of things. Then again, each personal is his own complex mix of variations on this. But I should tell you that SSRI's don't "increase" serotonin, they regulate it.
Dr. Charles Turck
Pharmacology 17 years experience
It depends: Nobody can say for sure. Depression is associated with insomnia or sleepiness in different people. Depending on the person, SSRIs are associated with insomnia or drowsiness and how individual patients are affected by these medications is something that cannot be predicted. As frustrating as it is, the brain is still arguably the least understood animal organ.
Dr. Andrew Kaplan
Psychiatry 12 years experience
Complex: As noted, there are numerous subtypes of 5ht receptors. Of those that experience an effect related to wakefulness, about half on an SSRI will note excessive daytime sedation and the other half sleep disturbance. There are numerous additional transmitter systems involved downstream of 5ht effects or directly by the medication (e.g. dopamine w/ Zoloft).

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Last updated Jun 18, 2018
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