Antidepressants are used to treat depression by increasing serotonin and norepinephrene (chemical messengers) in the brain. Antidepressants are not addictive. They are not tranquilizers, and they do not give the patient a "high" feeling. Antidepressants are generally prescribed for at least 4 to 6 months or longer. Some patients will be on them for the duration of their lives. In those cases, antidepressant medications may chance multiple times.
In general, an antidepressant is chosen based upon the patient's individual symptoms. The product must be taken a full 6-8 weeks before the full effects of the medication can be measured. It takes at least that long to get tinto the bloodstream. Most antidepressants require a multi-level phase for getting on and off the product. The dosages must be increased slowly and at specific intervals. A doctor or psychiatrist must monitor a patient on any of these medications. Many patients must try several before they find the one that works best for them..
As a result, patients need to be well informed about their medications. Reading any and all information provided is important due to the potential side effects, prescription and over-the-counter medication interactions as well as interactions with herbal supplements. Some antidepressants can not be taken in conjunction with certain foods, alcohol, and/or illegal drugs. Patients must provide their doctor with a list of all such substances so he/she can make a safe decision regarding the antidepressants prescribed. Never discontinue antidepressant medications without speaking to your doctor. It can be extremely dangerous to wean yourself off of an antidepressant without medical assistance and potentially fatal to stop taking the medication cold turkey.
There are six specific medication classifications for antidepressants. The first round of antidepressants included Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). MAOIs are successful for some especially those who don't respond to other types of antidepressant medications. When used as directed, MAOIs are safe, but certain foods, beverages, and medications can cause dangerous interactions with MAOIs. Patients must eliminate their intake of these substances.
In the late 50s and early 60s, tricyclics were introduced. Tricyclic antidepressants affect the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin. They often have very unpleasant side effects. As a result, they've fallen out of favor with most mental health and medical professionals.
In the last decade, newer classes of antidepressants with fewer side effects have been marketed. One class, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) primarily affect the neurotransmitter serotonin. They block the reuptake (reabsorption) of serotonin in the brain, thus leaving more of the feel-good chemical in the brain.
Another class called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) increase the levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine neurotransmitters. These have fewer side effects than tricyclics. In some cases, they can increase blood pressure. They may also make depression symptoms, specifically with respect to thoughts of suicide, worse. If either of these situations occurs, you are encouraged to seek immediate medical attention.
Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs) are another class of drugs that have proven successful for some patients. Buproprion (Wellbutrin) is the only NDRI currently approved for usage by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There is a small chance that Buproprion can cause seizures in individuals who have previously had them as well as folks who have a history of eating disorders, head trauma or a tumor in the nervous system. Abrupt discontinuation of usage of alcohol and sedatives can also cause problems .
Finally, combined reuptake inhibitors and receptor blockers are also used today, but can have serious liver interactions. For example, Nefazodone users that show symptoms of liver dysfunction (yellowing skin and/or eye whites, dark urine, nausea, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite for several days) should seek medical help immediately, as hepatic failure may be imminent. Persons that have seizures should not take maprotiline.