Understanding Antidepressant Medication
An antidepressant, a psychiatric medication, is used to treat mood disorders. Some of the mood disorders that it treats are social anxiety disorder, depression and other anxiety disorders. These are the medications that are most commonly prescribed by psychiatrists.
There are several types of antidepressant medications available.
One type of antidepressant is Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These are considered the standard antidepressant. These prevent the reuptake of serotonin, which is a chemical in the brain used when transmitting signals to the neurons. Having an inadequate amount of serotonin is believed to be a cause of depression. Some examples are Zoloft, Lexapro, Prozac and Paxil.
Another type is serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These are a newer type of antidepressant working on both 5-HT and norepinephrine. 5-HT is just another name for serotonin. A few examples are Cymbalta and Effexor.
Side effects of SSRIs and SNRIs are the same, which are drowsiness, anxiety, long-term weight gain, nervousness, insomnia and decreased sexual ability.
The oldest antidepressants are tricyclic antidepressants. These are not used as much now due to the development of new, more effective drugs. They are used in cases of major depression, due to their effectiveness. The side effects are dizziness, dry mouth, constipation, urine retention, increased heart rate, confusion, drowsiness, sexual dysfunction and blurred vision. Some examples are Tofranil and Adapin.
Another type of antidepressant medication is noradrenergic and specific sertonergic (NaSSAs). These are a newer class. Weight gain, increased appetite and drowsiness are side effects. Some examples are Tolvon and Avanza.
Norepinephrine (noradrenaline) reuptake inhibitors (NRIs) are antidepressant medications that have been shown to positively affect motivation and concentration. Strattera, Edronax and Vivalan are a few examples.
Norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), like Wellbutrin, is another example. NDRIs restrict the reuptake of norepineprhine and dopamine.
It has been discovered that sometimes augmenter drugs used in conjunction with antidepressant medications are more effective. Sometimes a sedative is prescribed to help a patient sleep.
Antipsychotics are used to help treat anxiety, stabilize moods and prevent paranoia associated with clinical depression. But, these should not be used in high dosages, as they cause side effects when taken in high dosages.
Lithium is used with other medications when treating bipolar disorder.
Antidepressant medication can alleviate symptoms of depression and help one feel better. Depression can take the life out of someone causing them to withdraw from family and friends.
Gary Nolan is a freelance writer. You can find a wide range of antidepressant resources here.