Antidepressants are used to help relieve symptoms of depression and can also be used to treat generalized and social anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The best antidepressant for you will be the one that works best for your symptoms and needs. It is also possible to combine different types of antidepressants for better results.
Your healthcare provider will consider various factors to determine what antidepressant is best for you. They will consider if you have other health conditions, if you are taking other medications, and how they may interact with potential antidepressants. They will consider your specific symptoms and if you have relatives for whom a specific drug has worked in the past to treat depression.
Although antidepressant medications do not always cure depression fully, they can be effective in managing symptoms.
Antidepressants work by directly impacting your brain chemistry. They alter the levels of chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain. These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters, and they impact how signals are transmitted between neurons (cells) in the brain.
Each antidepressant medication impacts a different type of neurotransmitter in the brain and affects its behavior differently.
A reuptake inhibitor is a type of medication that prevents the reabsorption of neurotransmitters by brain cells after the intended signal has been sent. This means the neurotransmitters may temporarily stay in the synapses between the nerves, thus keeping the levels of neurotransmitters high in the brain.
Keeping neurotransmitter levels high can help increase communication between the neurons, which then strengthens the brain’s circuits. The overall result is that your mood is regulated.
There are different types of reuptake inhibitors, each targeting a different kind of neurotransmitter.
The three types of reuptake inhibitors are:
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
Antidepressants tend to be effective for many people. However, the way everyone responds to medication is different.
Most people begin to notice the benefits of taking antidepressants after 1-2 weeks if all prescribed doses are taken. With antidepressants, it is crucial to take the medication exactly as prescribed by one’s doctor. Talk to your doctor if you don’t notice any improvements after four weeks.
Even though the medicine usually acts fairly quickly (within two weeks after you start taking them) to increase levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, the full benefits of the medications may manifest only after four to six weeks and up to three months.
Antidepressant treatment can take up to six months to start showing results. However, how long you need antidepressants may vary. Patience is an essential part of treatment when using antidepressants.
When taking an antidepressant medication, don’t change your dosage or stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor. Take your medication according to your doctor’s instructions.
With antidepressants, there are some side effects that are present initially when you start taking the medication but tend to improve over time as your body gets used to the medications.
- Dry mouth
- Loose bowel movements
One significant side effect to be aware of is that some people may have increased suicidal thoughts or behaviors when taking antidepressants. In such a situation, notify your doctor immediately, as this is a serious side effect and needs immediate medical attention.
If any side effects of your antidepressants are bothering you, talk to your doctor before making any changes to your medications on your own.
Finding the right treatment when you suffer from treatment-resistant or major depressive disorder can be challenging. Antidepressant medication is the first line of defense for treating depression symptoms. But we have other treatment options if medications fail.
Contact Axis Integrative Mental Health at (720) 400-7025 or fill out our contact us to learn how we can help with your medication management.