Treating Depression with Medication

Treatment options for depression have been hotly debated for years. From alternative health treatments such as herbs and meditation to scientific treatments using prescription medications, there are many choices to consider when it comes to deciding on a depression care plan.

Although some patients are hesitant to take medication for depression, it is a treatment option that should be discussed  with your healthcare professional.

Medication is not the big bad enemy that some people think. It’s true that some people have misgivings about treating depression with drugs that affect brain activity. So, let’s look at it realistically. Your behavior and your mood is already being altered by chemical imbalances in the brain. You cannot control your thought process if the chemical makeup of those thoughts is out of sync. Antidepressant medications help balance these chemicals in your brain so you can return to a normal functioning brain — and life.

There are four main types of antidepressant medication. The categories of antidepressants each have distinctive characteristics.

SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. They are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They prevent serotonin, a neurotransmitter, from being reclaimed by the body. Serotonin is available to restore the imbalance in the brain’s messaging system. Examples include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and Celexa. Side effects may include decreased sexual desire, headaches and jitters. Prozac has been known to carry an increased risk of suicide in young people as a side effect at the beginning of use.

SNRIs are a class of drugs is known as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. They increase the available presence of two neurotransmitters that play a role in sleep and mood. Examples include Cymbalta and Effexor. The newest one on the market is Pristiq. Side effects include dizziness and some of the same ones as SSRIs.

NDRIs is the only form of antidepressant with just one pill on the market — Wellbutrin. It blocks the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. It is sought after because of its low incidence of sexual side effects.

MAOIs is the most recognizable antidepressant because many people are familiar with the warnings on the labels of common over-the-counter drugs and even foods. This class of drug predates many of the current and popular antidepressants. It stands for monoamine oxidase inhibitors. An example is Nardil. They are not prescribed as much because of severe side effects and interactions with common drugs and foods. Typically they are a last resort for patients.

What drug works best for you is going to be a matter of trial and error. Even if the doctor makes a good choice based on your reported symptoms, the dosage that works may vary. Sometimes a combination of antidepressant medications will work.

When you sit down with your doctor, be sure to ask your doctor to explain the medication option fully. For most people who begin a medication regimen, the results are promising. Depression symptoms lessen and they begin to see their life as a bright day instead of a dark one. Don’t let your fears of medication for depression scare you away from proper treatment. Discuss this option with your doctor today.

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