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Can 5-Hydroxytryptophan (oxitriptan) be categorized as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)? Since they both act on the serotonin pathway and are used to treat depression and other mood disorders?

For example on this page, they're treated under the same category.

If they're not, how 5-HTP is different from SSRI?

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  • $\begingroup$ That page you linked doesn't consider 5-HTP an SSRI: "Since 5 HTP (increase serotonin synthesis) and SSRIs (prolongs serotonin action) affects the serotonergic system in different ways," $\endgroup$ – YviDe Apr 4 '16 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ I know, it says: 5 HTP and SSRI in the title, but later on describes what are SSRIs, so like it's describing them both together. I'm sure some time ago I've seen some info that 5-HTP is same as SSRI, could be invalid, that's why I'm trying to double check that. Theoretically 5-HTP should work the same as SSRI, so I'm looking for some reliable sources how they're different. $\endgroup$ – kenorb Apr 4 '16 at 15:33
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No, it isn't considered an SSRI. SSRI stands for selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor or serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor, which designates the mechanism by which this category of drug (supposedly) works: on the serotonin transporters in the brain. It's a term only used for a limited range of drugs, like sertraline and citalopram.

5-HTP (Oxitriptan being a trade name) is a chemical precursor to serotonin. The way it affects the serotonergic system is by increasing the rate at which it is generated. The category to which it belongs is the "serotonin precursor" category, similarly to e.g. L-tryptophan (which is actually itself a precursor of 5-HTP).

If it is prescribed to treat depression, it might be called an anti-depressant, but SSRI is a term for a mechanism of action moreso than an effect. Tetracyclic and tricyclic antidepressants, for example, also affect neurotransmitter uptake in the brain, but aren't called SSRIs.

Further reading: How Different Antidepressants Work

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, so to which category 5-HTP/Oxitriptan goes then? $\endgroup$ – kenorb Apr 4 '16 at 15:44
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    $\begingroup$ @kenorb I'm not sure what you mean. I can't find any reliable source that calls it an antidepressant right now. Until then, I'd just call it an amino acid... $\endgroup$ – YviDe Apr 4 '16 at 19:38

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