Antidepressants are the drugs used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) and other conditions like anxiety disorders, chronic pain conditions, some addictions and dysthymia (persistent mild depression). MDD or simply ‘depression’ is a mental disorder characterized by constant low mood, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, low, and sometimes false beliefs and suicidal tendencies.
Antidepressants can be divided into five main categories: Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, Tricyclic antidepressants, Monoamine oxidase inhibitors and, Noradrenaline, and specific serotoninergic antidepressants.
Depression leads to an imbalance in the neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine, leaving the communication between nerve cells impaired. Antidepressants work by gaining that balance back by blocking the reabsorption/breakdown of serotonin and raising its level in the brain, thus resuming the healthy communication between cells.
Common side effects of antidepressants are mania, restlessness, insomnia, confusion, emotional lability, loss of sexual desire, change in appetite, change in weight, reduced emotional activity, nausea, anxiety. Excessive mood elevation and suicidal thoughts are other severe adverse effects, to which children and adolescents are more susceptible. Immediately consult the doctor if the depression worsens, psychiatric changes occur or unusual behavior is noticed. Patients may also experience mild withdrawal symptoms that may include anxiety, dizziness, nightmares or vivid dreams’, sensory changes, flu-like symptoms, abdominal pain, and psychosis(rarely). Pregnant / breastfeeding women should consult a doctor before starting or discontinuing the use of these drugs as it may affect the unborn/infant.
It is highly recommended to take these medicines after consulting the doctor.
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