Are you lately feeling depressed due to some reason or the other? Then, an antidepressant is a drug that may come to your help. With these drugs, your brain’s imbalanced neurotransmitter gets chemically balanced again and your bad mood gets transformed into a good one. Also, these medicines will boost your appetite as well as concentration and ensure that you get a sound sleep at the end of the day. However, you must visit the doctor’s chamber and get his approval before taking these medicines. Curious to know more about antidepressants? Keep reading this write-up and we promise, you will get to know everything about it.
Antidepressant is a medicine that treats or prevents all types of clinical depression and anxiety disorders (for example, social anxiety disorder, seasonal affective disorder, etc). Apart from that, antidepressant medications are also consumed for other conditions such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), etc.
Sometimes, the doctor also prescribes antidepressant drugs to people who are suffering from long-term chronic pain or discomfort. Antidepressants vanish away all the depression of people who are suffering from anxiety and depression and encourage them to frequently do those things that fascinate them a lot. This contributes to stimulating their mood in a positive way and living their life happily ever after.
Antidepressant medications don’t relieve your depression immediately after you take them. However, you have to continue taking these medications regularly as prescribed by your doctor. After 3 to 4 weeks, you will start feeling the results. You will experience a transformation in your mood. For some patients, it may take longer than 3 to 4 weeks to show their effects. So, the patients taking these medicines require a bit of patience before the medicines begin to work. Primarily, the effects of the medicines are subtle and with time, the patients will realize that they are really feeling better than before.
However, in case the patient doesn’t notice any change in his/her mood even after the passage of several weeks, he/she must consult with the doctor again. The doctor in such as case, will change the medicine, increase the dose or recommend another medicine along with it. The medicine works without any hassle in the case of nearly 60 percent of people. However, 40 percent of people have to visit the doctor again for the non-effectiveness of the prescribed dose of the medicine on their bodies. In such a case, the doctor is the sole person who will decide what they should do.
How Do Antidepressants Work?
Every person’s brain comprises some chemicals in the form of neurotransmitters like serotonin, noradrenaline, etc that improve his/her mood and emotion. The antidepressant drugs increase these neurotransmitters and thus relieve you from depression by making you happy. The neurotransmitter level, when increased, also disrupts the nerve transmitting pain signals.
This is the reason why with the intake of antidepressants, you get relief from your long-term or chronic pain. While taking antidepressants, one should be aware that these drugs only treat your depression’s signs and is incapable of addressing your depression’s reasons. Due to this property of antidepressants, they are usually prescribed along with therapy when the depression case or the mental health issue is more severe.
Also Read: The benefits of regular exercise on mental health
Types Of Antidepressants:
Antidepressants can be divided into 5 types. They are:
1. TCAs – Tricyclic Antidepressants
Tricyclic antidepressant is a kind of antidepressant that is used for-
- A few types of anxieties
- Chronic pain
Some examples of TCAs are amoxapine, desipramine, imipramine, protriptyline, amitriptyline, clomipramine, doxepin, nortriptyline, trimipramine, etc.
2. SSRIs – Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
SSRI is a first-line antidepressant used for treating depression in a person. Some examples of SSRIs are escitalopram (Lexapro), fluvoxamine (Luvox), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), paroxetine (Paxil), etc.
3. SNRIs – Serotonin, And Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors
SNRI is a kind of modern and newly discovered antidepressant that is used for treating depression. It works just as SSRI antidepressants work. Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors treat anxiety disorders, chronic neuropathic pain, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), menopausal symptoms, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), and fibromyalgia.
Some examples of SNRI antidepressants are desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and venlafaxine (Effexor XR).
4. NaSSAs – Noradrenaline And Specific Serotoninergic Antidepressants
NaSSA is a kind of antidepressant that is used for curing anxiety disorders or depression. Some examples of NaSSA antidepressants are mirtazapine, mianserin (Tolvon), etc.
5. MAOIs – Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
MAOI antidepressant is a kind of antidepressant that is used when SSRI antidepressants don’t work on a depressed person. The doctor never prescribes any Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor for first-line treatment of depression because it comprises some adverse effects as well. Also, this drug has the tendency to interact with other drugs, which medically becomes a risk factor for patients.
Some examples of Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors are tranylcypromine (Parnate), selegiline (Emsam, Eldepryl), phenelzine (Nardil), and isocarboxazid (Marplan).
How Effective Are Antidepressants?
Antidepressants are good and effective medicines for those who are either moderately or severely depressed. These types of drugs are helpful in relieving depression symptoms quickly and boosting one’s mood positively. Now, it’s a separate thing that every drug reacts to each person’s body distinctly. IQEHC (Institute for quality and efficiency in health care) specified that about forty to sixty percent of people who have ingested SSRI or SNRI-type antidepressants started getting relief within six to eight weeks. According to various research conducted on antidepressants, these drugs work better if the depressions are on the severe side.
Side Effects Of Antidepressants
Antidepressants can have some side effects, just like any other medicine. They are dry mouth, agitation, insomnia, low desire for sex, sudden gain in weight, headache, nauseous feeling, vomiting, and drowsiness. The side effects vary from one antidepressant to another antidepressant. For example, SSRI antidepressants cause fewer side effects than TCA antidepressants and MAOI antidepressants.
Besides, the side effects also vary from person to person. In case you experience any side effects after an antidepressant drug’s intake, you must consult regarding it your doctor. He will take the appropriate steps regarding that. The side effects of antidepressants may either last for a few days or a few weeks. If the side effects still continue to last even after the passage of several weeks, your doctor may ask you to stop that particular medicine that is giving you the side effects.
Or, he may change the time of taking the medication or give you a new medicine. Don’t stop any antidepressant suddenly without taking your doctor’s advice otherwise, you may get ill or experience various side effects like headaches, dizziness, etc. In case you need to stop your drug, your doctor will decrease the dosage gradually before they finally advise you to stop it. It’s much safer than stopping the drug suddenly.
Doses Of Antidepressants
Antidepressants mainly come in tablet shape. Doctors recommend taking 1 to 3 tablets daily to different patients with depression based on how severe their depression is. Also, the intake of the number of antidepressant tablets is based on the antidepressant tablet type you are stipulated to take. Doctors always start giving antidepressants to their patients at a low dose and increase it gradually. If antidepressant medicines don’t work even after taking them continually for 4 weeks, consult your general physician/mental health specialist.
In general, the treatment goes on for six months. However, the doctor may extend it further in case he sees any reason to extend it. Also, he may prescribe life-long intake of these medications to those patients whom depression keeps on attacking recurrently. It’s recommended to the patients not miss any dose of these medications otherwise the treatment will not be effective as expected. If you miss any dose by chance, take the dosage immediately after you remember it.
However, you should not take the missed dose if the time of taking the next dose is near. In such a case, it will be wise to skip your missed dose. Also, never take overdose without any doctor’s advice or stop the medicines suddenly. Stopping the drugs suddenly may result in stomach upset, anxiety, electric shock sensation in your body, flu-like symptoms, dizziness, and seizures.
Uses Of Antidepressants
Antidepressants are mainly useful for treating OCD, social anxiety disorder, panic attacks, depression, major depressive disorder, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), chronic pain, and generalized anxiety disorder.
Antidepressant withdrawal refers to the symptoms that occur when a person stops taking antidepressant medication. These symptoms can be quite distressing and can range from mild to severe. It’s important to understand the potential withdrawal effects of antidepressants and to speak with a healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication.
Withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the type of antidepressant medication and how long a person has been taking it. Common symptoms include:
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Nausea and vomiting
- Irritability and mood swings
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Insomnia or changes in sleep patterns
- Flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and fever
In some cases, withdrawal symptoms can be severe and may include:
- Suicidal thoughts
It’s important to note that not everyone who stops taking antidepressants will experience withdrawal symptoms. The likelihood and severity of withdrawal effects can depend on factors such as the type of medication, the dose, and how long a person has been taking it.
To reduce the risk of withdrawal symptoms, it’s recommended to gradually taper off antidepressants under the guidance of a healthcare provider. Abruptly stopping medication can increase the likelihood and severity of withdrawal effects.
If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants, it’s important to seek medical attention. A healthcare provider can provide guidance on how to manage symptoms and may recommend a different medication or treatment option.
Natural antidepressants are alternative treatments for depression that do not involve prescription medications. Some natural antidepressants include:
- Exercise: Regular physical activity has been shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
- St. John’s Wort: A plant extract that has been used for centuries to treat depression.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in fish, nuts, and seeds, omega-3 fatty acids can have a positive effect on mood and may reduce symptoms of depression.
- Vitamin D: Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to depression, and taking vitamin D supplements may help improve mood.
- Meditation: Mindfulness meditation has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression and anxiety.
Antidepressant alternatives are other treatment options for depression that may be used in place of or in addition to antidepressant medications. Some examples of antidepressant alternatives include:
- Therapy: Talking to a mental health professional can help a person manage symptoms of depression and develop coping strategies.
- Light therapy: Exposure to bright light, particularly in the morning, has been shown to be effective in treating the seasonal affective disorder and other forms of depression.
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): ECT involves a series of controlled seizures induced by an electrical current and is used in cases of severe depression or when other treatments have failed.
Antidepressants and Weight Gain
Weight gain is a common side effect of some antidepressant medications. This can be particularly concerning for individuals who are already struggling with their weight. Some antidepressants that are more likely to cause weight gain include:
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): TCAs are an older class of antidepressants that have been shown to cause weight gain.
- Mirtazapine: This medication is used to treat depression and can cause significant weight gain.
- Paroxetine: This medication has been associated with weight gain in some individuals.
If weight gain is a concern while taking antidepressants, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider. They may recommend a different medication or work with the individual on strategies to manage weight.
Antidepressants and Pregnancy
Antidepressant use during pregnancy can be a complex issue. Some antidepressants have been associated with an increased risk of birth defects or other complications, while others have not. It’s important to weigh the risks and benefits of antidepressant use during pregnancy with a healthcare provider. In some cases, stopping medication during pregnancy may not be the best option, as untreated depression can also have negative effects on both the mother and the baby.
Antidepressants and Anxiety
Antidepressants are sometimes used to treat anxiety disorders, as they can have a calming effect on the brain. However, not all antidepressants are equally effective in treating anxiety. Some antidepressants that are commonly used to treat anxiety include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): SSRIs are a newer class of antidepressants that are often used to treat anxiety disorders.
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): SNRIs are another class of antidepressants that are sometimes used to treat anxiety disorders.
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): TCAs are an older class of antidepressants that are sometimes used to treat anxiety disorders.
Antidepressants and Alcohol
Drinking alcohol while taking antidepressants can be dangerous. Alcohol can worsen the side effects of antidepressant medication and can also reduce the effectiveness of the medication. Some antidepressants can also increase the effects of alcohol, leading to drowsiness, dizziness, and other symptoms. It’s important to avoid drinking alcohol while taking antidepressants or to speak with a healthcare provider if alcohol use is a concern.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) On Antidepressants
Q. How do antidepressants make you feel?
Ans. Antidepressants make you feel relieved from depression and anxiety. However, you may face some common side effects while taking these medicines (especially SSRI & SNRI medicines) such as-
Q. What do antidepressants do to your mood?
Ans. Antidepressants fight the symptoms of mental exhaustion, feeling down, intense depression, etc, and thus make you emotionally stable so that you can lead a normal and healthy life. Also, the drugs prevent the symptoms of depression from recurring back again. They boost your mood and help you positively view life so that you feel optimistic even in case of every failure of your life.
Q. What is the most commonly used antidepressant?
Ans. Doctors usually prescribe the SSRI category of antidepressant drugs to their depression and anxiety-stricken patients because they prefer this type of drug over other categories of antidepressants. The main reason behind it is that SSRIs have very fewer side effects as compared to the side effects of the other category of antidepressant drugs. In case the patient overtakes SSRI drugs by mistake, it is expected to cause no serious harm to him/her. An example of an SSRI drug is Fluoxetine (Prozac).
Discussion about this post