Antidepressants are medications meant for effective treatment for clinical depression. It is also be used to treat a variety of different psychological ailments, such as:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
It is popularly believed that anti-depressants can lead to various side effects or even addictions. Are the concerns fact-driven? What are their side effects? Let’s take a closer look.
Antidepressants are prescription medications used to treat people experiencing symptoms of clinical depression. They work by altering chemicals in the brain, primarily serotonin and norepinephrine. This chemical change alleviates symptoms of depression and anxiety, making it easier for people to cope with challenging situations.
You can find different antidepressants, including SSRIs, SNRIs, tricyclic antidepressants, MAOIs, and more. Each has slightly different mechanisms of action and different side effects. Generally, they’re safe to take when prescribed, but they come with some risks, including drug interactions, side effects and potential for dependency.
How Do Antidepressants Work
Antidepressants work by regulating your brain’s neurotransmitters, which are substances that impact your mood and emotions. Antidepressants can help you feel better, sleep better, and enhance your appetite and attention. They can also assist in jump-starting mood and give you a mood boost to overcome depressive symptoms.
Antidepressants tablet are the most popularly prescribed. Doctors will start with the lowest strength. It may take up to 1 to 2 weeks for it to show some results. Doctors may adjust the dose based on its impact.
Based on research, antidepressants are more helpful for people with moderate or severe depression. Usually, antidepressants are not prescribed for mild depression.
Antidepressants can treat the symptoms of depression, but they do not always directly address its causes. Some causes of depression and anxiety can be linked to external factors such as your environment and your daily stressors. That is why they’re usually used in combination with counselling or clinical therapies.
What are the side effects of taking antidepressants? For most people, antidepressants are safe. However, there may be some potential side effects:
- Dry mouth
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Sexual problems
Many popular antidepressant medications fall under the following drug types:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – Treats depression by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) – Eases depression by affecting the chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that communicate between brain cells.
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) – Works by preventing the reabsorption of neurotransmitters called serotonin and norepinephrine,
- Tetracyclic antidepressants – Relieves depression and anxiety by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine.
- Dopamine reuptake blockers – Increases extracellular concentrations of dopamine and increases dopaminergic neurotransmission.
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) – Change the levels of the brain chemicals norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine.
- Noradrenergic antagonists
- 5-HT1A receptor antagonists
- 5-HT2 receptor antagonists
- 5-HT3 receptor antagonists