The efficacy of SSRIs in the treatment of major depression, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder has clearly been demonstrated. In addition, data is accumulating on the therapeutic effects of SSRIs in conditions of obesity, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and trichotillomania. How can one class of medications work for such a seemingly diverse group of illnesses? Are these agents in fact nonspecific and work as a steroid might for a multitude of inflammatory conditions? Or alternatively, is there an underlying psychopathology, relating to 5-HT, that represents a common neurochemical theme among these conditions? Our methods of classification in psychiatry are clinical and descriptive and may relate poorly to actual brain function.
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