Some patients prescribed with antidepressants are confused by the effects of the medication on the various symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. How does your doctor find one that’s right for you and why do some patients switch to a different medication?
How Do Antidepressants Work?
Antidepressants are grouped into classes based on how they chemicals work in the body, although some might differ slightly from the others. The role of antidepressants in the treatment is to increase the level of specific neurotransmitters to reduce the symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, because depression at its most basic definition is the imbalance of brain chemicals that control a person’s mood.
Neurotransmitters or brain chemicals are supposed to control the different functions in the brain, and one such neurotransmitter, serotonin, affect the mood of the person.
How Does the Doctor Find the Right Medication?
Deciding which type of treatment will work on you, or if you need medication or not, will depend on each person. Most antidepressants should affect all the patients similarly, but the differences and the severity of the side effects are usually the deciding factors in picking the right medication.
Determining the severity and type of side effects could be trial-and-error process, but doctors usually take into consideration the other medication you’re currently taking, the risk of affecting pregnancy and breastfeeding among female patients, the medication’s effect on a relative of a patient, and other existing health conditions that could change the medication’s effect. The doctor might recommend a combination of antidepressants and other medications to reduce the symptoms.
What are the Types of Antidepressants?
• SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are known to generally cause mild or fewer side effects even at high doses. Examples are paroxetine, fluoxetine, and escitalopram.
• SNRIs or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors include duloxetine, levomilnacipran, and desvenlafaxine.
• MAOIs or monoamine oxidase inhibitors are given if the other types of antidepressants don’t work. However, the person is advised to observe a strict diet because the antidepressant can have negative interactions with food and other medications. These include isocarboxazid, tranylcypromine, and phenelzine.
• Atypical antidepressants are called as such, because they do not fit into the other antidepressant categories. These include bupropion, vortioxetine, vilazodone, trazodone, and mirtazapine.
• Tricyclic antidepressants are known to cause a lot of side effects, but they are given to the patient of the other antidepressants do not improve the symptoms. These include imipramine, amitriptyline, desipramine, doxepin, and nortriptyline.
What are the Side Effects of Antidepressants?
All medications have side effects, including antidepressants, but some can be unpleasant for others, that is why the doctor might switch your antidepressant for another class. Fortunately, most side effects are short-term and harmless, and will usually go away after several weeks. These include nausea, diarrhea, weight gain, and sleep problems. Some classes are known to have nasty effects, that is why if you’re taking an antidepressant, monitor changes in your sleep, appetite, weight, and sexual function.