Antidepressants are a kind of psychiatric medication used for the treatment of depression, and sometimes other psychological conditions such as anxiety. Antidepressants come in a variety of different classifications. Your doctor can prescribe which one you both agree will be best for you. Antidepressants shouldn’t be viewed as a cure-all, however. There are dangers and side effects, and it’s important to be well informed about your medication before you begin treatment. Antidepressants are also not meant for long-term usage. Rather, they should be used to accompany regular therapy, which will be the ultimate and most effective form of treatment for depression.

Some different forms of antidepressants include:

  • SSRIs – Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • SNRIs – Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
  • NaSSAs – Noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressants
  • NRIs – Norepinephrine (noradrenaline) reuptake inhibitors
  • NDRIs – Norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors
  • SSREs – Selective serotonin reuptake enhancers
  • NDDIs – Norepinephrine-dopamine disinhibitors
  • TCAs – Tricyclic antidepressants
  • MAOIs – Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • Augmenter drugs

How Do Antidepressants Work?

It is thought that one contributor to depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. The various kinds of medication alter brain chemicals, which can lift depressed moods, allowing patients to feel more uplifted, bring back appetite, interest and so on. It can take a few weeks or more for antidepressants to start working, so it’s important to be patient and look out for major warning signs.

What are the Risk Factors and Side Effects of Antidepressants?

Side effects and risk factors will vary depending on what type of antidepressant you are taking, but generally they can include nausea, dizziness, insomnia, anxiety, decreased sex drive, fatigue, diarrhea, headaches and constipation. Major warning signs that the medication isn’t working well for you is experiencing suicidal thoughts, worsened depression and/or anxiety, aggression and anger, feeling dangerously impulsive or any other major changes. It’s important to take the medication exactly as directed and to be aware of these side effects, and to combine medication with regular therapy. There is also the risk for developing addiction.

If you are consistently experiencing depression or major depression, the most important thing is to seek help from a professional. Ultimately, the results from regular therapy will cure depression in the long run. If you feel that medications could help you and be right for you, talk to your doctor about it. You can discuss the pros and cons, and decide together which form of treatment will be best for you. Ask yourself if you are ready to deal with the possible side effects, and if you are willing to commit to therapy, not just rely in medication. If you are having thoughts of suicide or other impulsive and negative acts, it’s vital to seek help immediately. With your effort and the help of a professional, you can rid yourself of depression and begin to feel normal again.

View Resources

  • Wikipedia – Wikipedia entry for antidepressants. Includes a list of all different kinds.
  • – Very informational page for antidepressants, including risks, side effects and more.
  • MedlinePlus – Information about how antidepressants work.
  • – Information about antidepressants for consideration.

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