I share your concerns about SSRI side effects.
I have just started with buspirone, which lots of guys here talk about. (Do a search here in MS for buspirone and/or Buspar.)
It's a first step, and has little of the negative side effects of SSRI's. It's also not addictive like Xanax or Valium.
Buspirone is not commonly used or prescribed by the medical community because its patent ran out and so there's no longer a marketing budget for it...
As much as doctors like to think they are not prone to drug company advertising, they most certainly are.
If you're concerned about SSRIs, ask about buspirone first and see if that works for you before getting into something that's going to make you feel chemically lobotomized or increase your risk for nightmares.
"There is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces... even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar." -- from Moby-Dick