Antidepressant medications serve to alleviate depressive symptoms and can also be utilized in addressing other mental health conditions. This includes generalized and social anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The ideal antidepressant for you is the one that effectively addresses your symptoms and caters to your individual needs. Combining more than one type of antidepressant can sometimes yield better outcomes.
Your healthcare provider will evaluate various factors to determine the most suitable antidepressant for your situation. They will assess any existing health conditions, other medications you are taking, and potential interactions with the proposed antidepressants. Additionally, they will examine your specific symptoms and consider any family history of successful depression treatment with a particular drug.
While antidepressant medications may not always completely eradicate depression, they can be instrumental in managing its symptoms.
How Antidepressants Function
Antidepressants operate by directly affecting your brain's chemical makeup. They modify the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine within the brain. These chemicals play a crucial role in transmitting signals between neurons (cells) in the brain.
Each antidepressant medication targets a specific neurotransmitter in the brain and influences its behavior in a unique way.
Reuptake inhibitors are a class of medications that impede the reabsorption of neurotransmitters by brain cells after a signal has been conveyed. This allows the neurotransmitters to remain temporarily in the synapses between the nerves, thereby maintaining elevated levels of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Higher neurotransmitter levels can boost communication between neurons, fortifying the brain's circuits. The end result is the stabilization of your mood.
Various types of reuptake inhibitors exist, with each focusing on a distinct neurotransmitter.
The three categories of reuptake inhibitors include:
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
Efficacy of Antidepressants
Antidepressants have proven to be beneficial for a significant number of individuals. Nevertheless, each person's response to medication varies.
Typically, individuals start observing the advantages of antidepressants after 1-2 weeks of adhering to the prescribed dosage. It is vital to follow the doctor's instructions regarding medication intake. If no improvement is noticed after four weeks, consult your doctor.
Although antidepressants can elevate neurotransmitter levels in the brain relatively quickly (within two weeks of initiating treatment), the full benefits may only become apparent after four to six weeks or even up to three months.
The duration of antidepressant treatment may take up to six months to yield results. However, the required length of treatment with antidepressants can differ among individuals. Patience plays a critical role in the treatment process when using antidepressants.
Adverse Effects of Antidepressants
When using antidepressant medication, always consult your doctor before altering your dosage or discontinuing the medication. Adhere to your doctor's guidance regarding medication intake.
Antidepressants may cause some side effects at the beginning of treatment, which usually improve as your body adjusts to the medication over time. Be sure to discuss any side effects with your provider.
Patients taking antidepressants should also closely monitor for worsening of depression or the rise of suicidal thoughts and behavior. If this occurs, inform your doctor promptly, as this is a severe side effect that requires immediate medical attention.
If any adverse effects of your antidepressants are causing discomfort, consult your doctor before modifying your medications independently.
Antidepressant Medication at Bristol Health
Antidepressant medication serves as the primary approach to addressing depression symptoms, but alternative treatment options are available if medications are unsuccessful.
Get in touch with Bristol Health at (801) 903-5903 or request an appointment to learn how we can assist you with mental health medicines.