What You Need to Know About Antidepressants
Antidepressants are drugs prescribed to patients who are suffering from depression. While they do not exactly treat depression, they help reduce the symptoms. For you to see results, it may take several weeks, but eventually, the drugs work. Also, there are several types of antidepressants on the market, and what may work for your friend may not work for you. The best solution is to consult with a specialist. You can expect some side effects from these drugs, although they do not last for long.
Depression medication can be categorized into several types, as seen below.
These are the most common depression medication antidepressant that doctors will start with to reduce the symptoms of depression. They have few bothersome side effects compared to other antidepressants. They also have a lower chance of causing issues at higher therapeutic doses. As most people are aware, serotonin plays a role in depression. These drugs block the absorption or reuptake of serotonin in the brain, making it easier for the brain cells to send and receive messages, hence resulting in more stable moods. They are also called selective as they mainly affect serotonin and not any other neurotransmitters. Examples of SSRIs include citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva).
Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
These drugs are used to treat mood disorders and major depression. Although not common, they can also be used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Examples of SNRIs include levomilnacipran (Fetzima), duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor XR), and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq). SNRIs help raise serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain, hence stabilizing one’s mood.
These drugs contain three rings in their chemical structure, hence the name tricyclic antidepressants. These are used to treat various types of anxiety, fibromyalgia, depression, and they can also control chronic pain. Tricyclic antidepressants have more side effects than other antidepressants. Therefore, they will often be prescribed to a patient if other medications have not worked. Examples of tricyclic antidepressants include nortriptyline (Pamelor), desipramine (Norpramin), and imipramine (Tofranil).
The drugs do not exactly fit well into the other categories. The most common antidepressants in this category include vilazodone (Viibryd), mirtazapine (Remeron), vortioxetine (Trintellix), and bupropion (Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL).
Before a doctor prescribes an antidepressant to you, they will consider certain factors, as seen below.
Symptoms of depression are not the same for everyone, and so some drugs can work better than others. For instance, if you struggle to sleep, the doctor may give you an antidepressant with some sedating properties.
If a family member has also dealt with depression and a particular drug worked on them, it might work on you as well. Also, if you have used certain drugs before and they were effective, you can try them again.
Antidepressant side effects can range from mild, such as drowsiness, to severe, such as seizures. Make sure you discuss the possible side effects of the drugs with the pharmacist or doctor.
Due to the side effects of antidepressants, there are certain medications that the doctor will advise you to stay clear of. For instance, paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva) is discouraged for pregnant women.
When some antidepressants are taken with other medication, they can cause harmful reactions.
If you have certain physical or mental health conditions, some antidepressants can make the situation worse, while some can treat the condition.
For you to see the results, here are a few things to remember.
- Be patient: After the doctor prescribes antidepressants, you will start noticing improvements after several weeks, from around six weeks or more. As you wait for the drug to take effect, you can consult the doctor on various coping mechanisms for depression.
- Take your medication as prescribed: Ensure you are taking the dosage as required. If the medicine is causing bothersome side effects or not working, you can call the doctor before changing.
- Explore other options if the medication is not working: If after several weeks, the side effects are not improving and you are not feeling better, it is good to explore other medications.
- Avoid recreational drugs and alcohol: Some people turn to drugs or alcohol to lessen the symptoms of depression. However, they end up with a substance use disorder in most cases.
- Try psychotherapy: Most doctors recommend combining talk therapy and antidepressants as this is more effective than relying on antidepressants only. Also, psychotherapy can help prevent depression from coming back after you get better.
For some people, it may take trial and error before finding the right medication. If you have just started taking the new medication, note how you react to it and whether your symptoms are improving, then get back to your doctor. Also, depression is a serious condition and so try to be as open as possible with the physician. That way, they will manage to find the right treatment for you.