Antidepressants work by raising the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and noradrenaline. These are known as neurotransmitters, and they send signals from one brain cell to another. When the balance of these chemicals is disrupted it causes depression and its symptoms
Antidepressant drugs are commonly recommended for managing depression – but are they safe? Are there any side effects? This article will answer some of the most common questions associated with this drug.
Antidepressants Side Effects
All antidepressants have some potential side effects. However, the severity of side effects will depend on the specific drug you take.
Some common side effects are mentioned below:
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Agitation, shaky or anxious
- Feeling sick
- Indigestion and stomach issues
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of libido
- Difficulties reaching orgasm during sexual activities
- Erectile dysfunction
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
- Dry mouth
- Blurring of eyesight
- Urinary dysfunction
- Gaining weight
- Sweating excessively (especially at night)
- Problems with heart rhythm (arrhythmia), such as palpitations or a rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
Long-term Effects of Antidepressants
There is some evidence that prolonged use of antidepressants can cause serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is a rare but potentially dangerous collection of adverse side effects associated with SSRIs and SNRIs. This occurs when serotonin level in the brain becomes too high as a result of drug interaction.
Serotonin syndrome symptoms may include:
- Twitching of the muscles
Other long-term side effects of using antidepressant are the following:
- Sexual problems
- Weight gain
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Not feeling like themselves
- Reduced positive feelings
- Feeling addicted
- Less care for other people
- Suicidal tendencies
Negative Effects on The Brain
Certain antidepressants can damage the functioning of the brain and lead to more severe mental illness. Some of these effects could be:
- Increased suicidal thoughts. Research shows that it is mostly detected in people under 25 years of age.
- Mania and bipolar disorder – this can happen when antidepressants are consumed without a mood-stabilizing drug.
- Decreased alertness, confusion, convulsions, hallucinations, and memory problems are few more issues triggered by incorrect doses of antidepressants.