SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
SSRIs are most often used to treat depression. These drugs are effective for different severities of depression. They are also commonly used among patients who show signs of major depression.
The main mechanism of SSRIs is to reduce the rate at which neurons in the brain reabsorb a neurotransmitter known as serotonin. This helps to increase the amount of serotonin that is available for the brain to use. Many individuals with depression symptoms have a lack of serotonin in their brains. By creating a better balance in serotonin levels, it is possible for the patient to experience a reduction in their symptoms of depression.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are sometimes taken with other medications used to help reduce anxiety disorders and related symptoms. For example, the patient may use an SSRI to treat depression but also be given a fast-acting anti-anxiety medication to help cope with flare-ups of their anxiety symptoms.
Examples of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors include:
SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors)
SNRIs are often used for severe depression or cases where the common SSRI does not seem to produce results in a certain period of time. Examples of these drugs include:
Examples of serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors include:
These are all SNRIs that are FDA approved for the treatment plan in patients who show signs of depression.
SNRIs work similarly to SSRIs. With an SSRI, however, the medication only helps to increase the availability of serotonin in the brain. When you use an SNRI, the medication helps to boost the availability of both norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. This is thought to lead to a more significant improvement in symptoms.
Sometimes, SNRIs are also used to assist in the treatment of symptoms in people who have chronic pain conditions. It is commonly used in cases where the individual have chronic pain that affect the nerves.
TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants)
Examples of tricyclic antidepressants include:
This type of antidepressant medication also works by blocking the reuptake of serotonin, as well as norepinephrine. In addition to these particular neurotransmitters, cyclic antidepressants are also known to affect other types of chemicals that are involved in the development of depression.
This depression medication is also sometimes used off-label for other conditions. People with neuropathic pain may find that the use of these drugs helps to provide improvements in their pain symptoms. Additionally, healthcare providers sometimes use this depression treatment for conditions like anxiety disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors)
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, were actually the very first type of medication developed to help in the treatment of depression. They are still sometimes used today, but some healthcare professionals believe that certain newer drugs work more effectively to relieve symptoms of depression.
The main mechanism of these drugs is to reduce the activity of monoamine oxidase, which is a type of enzyme that can be found in the brain. This enzyme is known to play a role in removing certain chemicals from the brain, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. By reducing the activity of monoamine oxidase, the drug helps to provide increased availability for these particular neurotransmitters.
Examples of MAOI antidepressants include:
There are also certain off-label uses for monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Apart from being commonly prescribed antidepressants, it is sometimes also used to help in treating patient's with Parkinson's disease.
There are times when the patient's medical history and the findings of their doctor call for depression medicines that are not typical. The term "typical" refers to the antidepressant medication options that are usually used to treat depression symptoms. Atypical antidepressant medications do not belong in any of these categories but may still provide effective results in treating depression.
Examples of atypical antidepressants include:
These medications generally work in different ways than typical depression medicines. They may be provided as part of a depression treatment online. Note that even though a doctor may diagnose depression online, the patient will still require a prescription for these atypical antidepressants.
How antidepressants work
Antidepressants work by altering the balance of certain chemicals or neurotransmitters that are naturally present in the brain. The majority of antidepressants focus on increasing serotonin in the brain, as well as norepinephrine. There are also some of these medications that help to increase dopamine levels in the brain. The mechanism by which these effects are achieved depends on the type of medicine that the patient uses.
Sometimes, other mental disorders need to be taken into consideration when a patient needs to start taking antidepressants. This can also have an impact on what the ideal option is when the doctor prescribes antidepressants for the patient.
Side effects of antidepressants
When taken as prescribed, antidepressants are generally well tolerated. However, they can still cause some side effects.
Note that the side effects sometimes differ based on the type of medication that the patient uses. Side effects may also be worse in cases where both depression and anxiety are treated with different medications. There are some shared side effects that are commonly reported among people who use most antidepressants that are frequently prescribed.
The more common side effects of antidepressants include:
•Drowsiness and dizziness
•Sleeping problems, such as insomnia
Sometimes, people also notice changes in their weight when taking antidepressants. This may include either weight gain or weight loss.
In rare cases, antidepressants may cause serious side effects. These can include:
•Suicidal Thoughts: It is critical to ensure all patients are educated about the risk of suicidal thoughts when they are provided with antidepressants to treat depression. This is usually considered a psychiatric emergency and may require further treatment from a healthcare professional. There is an increased risk of these side effects among younger individuals who use antidepressants. The risk can also be increased when they use the prescribed medicine with other antidepressants.
•Blood Pressure Problems: There are some rare cases where individuals experience changes in their blood pressure levels when they take certain antidepressants. This may cause blood pressure to either decline too much or rise significantly. Both of these side effects are considered dangerous. If the patient faints due to low blood pressure, they should be taken to the nearest emergency room for immediate treatment. When blood pressure levels rise, the patient needs to report this to their doctor to prevent the development of hypertension.
Antidepressants are generally safe, but there are some risks if you have other medical conditions or take certain medications.
Before you take a prescribed antidepressant, be sure to tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions or issues:
•Had suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts in the past.
•Have a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
•Experienced a condition known as serotonin syndrome in the past.
•Are currently pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant in the near future
•Are currently breastfeeding a newborn baby.
It is also important to tell your doctor about other medications that you currently take. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, and dietary supplements. Your doctor can assess these medications to determine if they may cause drug interactions with the antidepressants you should use.
Antidepressants drug interactions
When you begin a new medication, make sure to tell your doctor about any other medications, supplements, or herbs you’re taking.
The major drug interaction that healthcare providers are concerned about is when two drugs cause a change in the blood concentration of the chemicals that they use. For example, some drugs may cause an increase in the number of chemicals from an antidepressant circulating through the patient's body. This can lead to dangerous side effects.
Antidepressants should also not be combined with other drugs that affect serotonin levels. This can significantly increase the risk of developing serotonin syndrome.