With an increasingly demanding society, the struggle for survival, the difficulty of getting a job and earn enough to make a living, and the increasing number of single people (as a result of the difficulty to meet a partner), it’s no wonder more and more people feel depressed and resort to medication in order get better. The causes mentioned above are just a few of the many that could throw one into the “arms” of depression. You could add one more important depression-trigger, that is health issues, and you’ve got all the reasons to feel blue.
Whenever you feel like your mood is affected and that change lasts for more than a day or two, you should seek medical help. People with mild depression will, most probably, need talk therapy and some lifestyle changes in order to leave the realm of blues. In severe cases of depression, though, drugs are recommended. Antidepressants are quite controversial. While some people praise them, others complain about their side effects. Here are some important facts you should know about antidepressants and their use.
Brain imaging technology has shown that the parts of the brain involved in thinking, sleep, mood, and behavior are different for people affected by depression than in those who have no such condition. Antidepressants are drugs that target the neurotransmitters, particularly serotonin and norepinephrine, that regulate the mood.
However, there are voices saying that serotonin and norepinephrine are just a small part of the story. Some research studies have even concluded that few people rid of depression symptoms when on anti-depressants and some of them become even worse. While there’s still more research needed in order to know precisely what triggers the chemical changes in our brains, antidepressants are very much used all over the world.
Your psychiatrist will decide if you need to take antidepressants. Anyhow, many people resort to antidepressants when other treatments like talk therapy, exercises, and self-help strategies don’t work. All these are preferred to medication because they trigger no side effects. Antidepressants are very much debated because of the numerous side effects they can trigger.
Antidepressants fall into various categories. The most common ones are the following:
Unfortunately, all antidepressants come with side effects, some of them worse enough to make people stop using them.
SSRIs are among the most used antidepressants targeting serotonin which regulates mood. Serotonin plays an important role in mental clarity, pain, sleep, digestion, and sleep as well. The side effects of SRRIs include nausea, insomnia, restlessness, anxiety, dizziness, tremors, weight gain, fatigue, diarrhea or constipation, headaches, sweating, and decreased sex drive. They are also known to cause severe symptoms if the patient stops using them abruptly.
Atypical antidepressants are newer drugs that target more neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Such drugs can lead to weight gain, nausea, sleepiness, nervousness, dry mouth, blurred vision, and fatigue.
The older antidepressants like tricyclic antidepressants and MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) trigger more severe side effects. That is the reason why they are usually the last item on the treatment options list. Some antidepressants may even accentuate depression and come with a suicide risk. If you are on antidepressants or someone you know takes them, watch closely for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Some of the signs that will let you know the drug makes things worse include insomnia, anxiety, hostility, extreme agitation, restlessness, anger, sleep problems, and extreme hyperactivity. If you notice any of these signs or other unusual behaviors, make sure you see your doctor.
Antidepressant side effects can affect all people who take them but there are some categories of people who have a higher risk of experiencing them. Such categories include pregnant women, people over 65, teens and young adults, and people with bipolar disorder.
Since antidepressants are not a cure but only medication that will treat your symptoms, other types of therapy to help you identify the underlying cause that triggers your depression are needed. Talk therapy, social support, exercises, mindfulness meditation, and lifestyle changes will help you enjoy long-term relief and changes.
However, if your doctor considers that you need antidepressants, make sure you get as much information as possible about the treatment. Ask your psychiatrist about the side effect you can experience, the restrictions you have while on drugs, drug interactions, the duration of the treatment, drug withdrawal and its effects, and so on. The more you know, the better. You will thus be more prepared to deal with side effects and know what to do and what not to do when taking antidepressants and you will also minimize various risks.
If you feel like your mood is going the wrong direction and you seek medical help, make sure you see a qualified psychiatrist. We’re talking about your health and the expertise of the doctor you see will count a lot in you getting better.
Make sure you follow the instructions your doctor will provide you with. Stick to the dose and drug schedule you get from your physician. Don’t interrupt your treatment if you feel better. Sudden interruption is associated with severe withdrawal symptoms and people who stop taking their drugs abruptly are very likely to get depressed again soon.
Alcohol use should be avoided during the treatment. Plus, make sure you let your doctor or pharmacist know about your medication if you need to take other drugs, too. You will thus avoid interactions.
Beware of side effects. Make sure you learn as much as possible about them and keep an eye on any unusual change in your behavior. If such changes occur, see your doctor.
Don’t lose hope and have patience. It may take a while until your antidepressant reaches its full therapeutic effect. Combine your drug treatment with regular visits to your psychiatrist, lifestyle changes, social support and other health therapies that make you feel better.