Can you take expired SSRIs? 

In this article, we will discuss the potential risks of taking expired selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). We will also talk about the importance of ensuring the safe and effective use of antidepressants and how expired medications can affect your depression treatment. 

Can you take expired SSRIs?

No, you should not take expired selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Although these antidepressants may not necessarily become toxic once expired, it is not recommended to take them (1). 

Depression can be a challenging and nerve-racking condition, and it’s essential to prioritize your mental well-being. Using expired medications, including SSRIs, can lead to decreased effectiveness and you won’t find relief from your symptoms (1). 

Depression treatment is crucial for your overall mental health, and compromising it by using expired medications is not worth the risk. If you find yourself in a situation where your SSRI has expired or is close to expiring, reach out to your healthcare provider. 

What are SSRIs and why it is important for them to be fully potent?

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a type of medication commonly prescribed to treat depression and anxiety. They work by increasing the levels of serotonin, a chemical messenger in the brain that helps regulate mood and emotions (2).

Some of the most commonly prescribed SSRIs include:

  • Zoloft (Sertraline)
  • Lexapro (Escitalopram)
  • Prozac (Fluoxetine)
  • Paxil (Paroxetine)
  • Celexa (Citalopram)

It is crucial for SSRIs like Zoloft to be fully potent because their effectiveness depends on their ability to regulate serotonin levels in the brain. When they are at their full strength, SSRIs can effectively improve mood, reduce feelings of sadness or anxiety, and help individuals cope with their mental health challenges (2).

If SSRIs lose their potency due to being expired or improperly stored, they may not work as well as they should. 

What are the potential risks of taking expired SSRIs?

Taking expired SSRIs can pose risks to your mental health, as they may not be as effective in managing depression symptoms. While they might not necessarily become toxic, their potency can diminish over time, reducing their ability to provide the intended benefits (1).

Depression is a serious condition that can have a significant impact on your daily life and overall well-being (3). If left untreated or not managed properly, it can lead to a worsening of symptoms – which can affect your relationships, career goals, and overall quality of life. 

Untreated depression can also increase the risk of developing more severe mental health issues, such as major depressive disorder (MDD) or suicidal thoughts (4).

What to do if you suspect that your SSRI has expired?

If you suspect that your SSRI has expired, it’s crucial to handle the situation responsibly. First of all, it’s essential to always take your prescription medications as directed by your healthcare provider. 

Since SSRIs are prescription medications, you should not have any expired tablets in the first place, as you would have received a specific quantity and duration of use from your doctor.

If you come across any medication that you think might be expired or if you have any doubts about its effectiveness, it’s best not to take it. Expired medications may not provide the intended therapeutic effects, and using them could potentially be unsafe.

In case you find expired SSRI tablets or any other medication in your possession, the safest approach is to dispose of them properly. Avoid flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, as this may harm the environment (5). 

Instead, check with your local pharmacy or healthcare provider for medication disposal programs in your area (6). They can guide you on the proper and safe way to dispose of expired or unused medications.

Just remember, using expired medications is not worth the risk. Your mental and physical well-being should always be your priority. 


In this article, we have discussed the potential risks of taking expired SSRIs in detail. We have also talked about why these antidepressants should be fully potent when you take them for your mental health condition and how expired medications can affect your treatment. 

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U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Don’t Be Tempted to Use Expired Medicines [Internet]. Silver Spring (MD): U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Available from:


Chu A, Wadhwa R. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. 2023 May 1. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 32119293.


Chand SP, Arif H. Depression. 2023 Apr 8. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 28613597.


Bains N, Abdijadid S. Major Depressive Disorder. 2023 Apr 10. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 32644504.


Nepal S, Giri A, Bhandari R, Chand S, Nepal S, Aryal S, Khanal P, Moktan JB, Shastry CS. Poor and Unsatisfactory Disposal of Expired and Unused Pharmaceuticals: A Global Issue. Curr Drug Saf. 2020;15(3):167-172. doi: 10.2174/1574886315666200626164001. PMID: 32589562.


Stoddard KI, Hodge V, Maxey G, Tiwari C, Cready C, Huggett DB. Investigating Research Gaps of Pharmaceutical take back Events: An Analysis of take back Program Participants’ Socioeconomic, Demographic, and Geographic Characteristics and the Public Health Benefits of take back Programs. Environ Manage. 2017 Jun;59(6):871-884. doi: 10.1007/s00267-017-0834-3. Epub 2017 Mar 3. PMID: 28258470.

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