Depression is more intense than sadness as it impacts how you perceive yourself and may even affect your social life. Nevertheless, with the right care, you can manage this condition. Antidepressants alter the levels of certain chemicals that affect your mood and emotions, and these typically start working within three weeks.
Studies by the Center for Disease Control show an alarming rise in people suffering from depression within the last decade. We will discuss what antidepressants are throughout this article and everything you need to know about them.
What are Antidepressants?
These are prescription drugs that treat clinical depression, chronic pain, and mental disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and generalized anxiety disorder.
Scientists believe that these drugs increase neurotransmitters such as serotonin and noradrenaline. These two chemicals pass messages between the brain, nerves, and other organs to change your brain chemistry, lifting your mood.
These drugs have to be accompanied by intensive therapy to maximize their effectiveness. These aren’t over-the-counter drugs and only healthcare professionals such as a general practitioner, psychiatrist, a special pharmacist, and a special nurse prescriber can prescribe you antidepressants.
Types of Antidepressants
You can categorize antidepressants into four categories, namely:
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
These prevent the reuptake of serotonin into its nerve cell, keeping the chemical longer in your body. These antidepressants are the most popular because they have fewer side effects. Examples of these drugs include Prozac, Luvox, and Zoloft.
Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
These prevent the reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine and are used for severe depression and anxiety patients. SNRIs include drugs such as Fetima, Pristiq, and Effexor.
Tricyclic and Tetracyclic Antidepressants
These drugs inhibit serotonin and noradrenaline uptake, among other chemicals in the brain, and have adverse side effects. Examples of these include Silenor, Elavil, and Anafranil.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
Monoamine oxidase breaks down to noradrenaline and serotonin. MAOIs work by preventing this breakdown allowing monoamine oxidase to stay longer in the brain and body in its original format. Doctors prescribe these drugs when all other antidepressants fail. Examples of MAOIs include Nardil, Marplan, and Parnate.
Other minor categories include dopamine reuptake blockers, natural supplements, 5-HT1A, 5-HT2, and 5-HT3 antagonists. You may not get the right antidepressant on the first try, and your doctor may need to tweak your prescriptions over time to get the right drug and dosage.
Are Antidepressants Effective?
According to the CDC shrooms and antidepressants are the most widely sought-after prescriptions in the US. Since these drugs show positive results within a month, studies don’t focus much on the long-term effect of these drugs.
The FDA database consists of mixed feelings from experts, with half showing positive and half showing the drug’s negative results. The drugs, however, seem to work on people with moderate and chronic depression and may be ineffective in less severe cases.
To understand how effective these drugs are, one must understand what the treatment entails. First, the doctor works to treat symptoms and fix the chemical imbalance treating depression. This may take weeks or months, and the doctor may prescribe therapy lessons to treat any underlying causes.
Sometimes, the doctor may prescribe antidepressants long after the symptoms subside to ensure that the symptoms go away completely. You don’t just stop these drugs abruptly; your doctor will gradually reduce the dosage to prevent adverse side effects.
Side Effects of Using Antidepressants
Antidepressants change how your brain and body work, and this could cause side effects. Patients typically experience these side effects within the first few weeks. These side effects include dry mouth, restlessness, low libido, and dizziness. The side effects will depend on your dosage and how frequently you take the drugs.
Some side effects are typical to specific drugs. For instance, you may experience diarrhea, headaches, nausea, and insomnia from SSRIs. Symptoms such as trembling, dizziness, vision problems, difficulty peeing, and a dry mouth are common for patients taking tricyclic antidepressants.
A small number of patients, especially older ones, can experience more adverse side effects ranging from liver damage, heart problems, and epileptic fits. These drugs also come with suicide warnings.
Using psychedelics is one alternative to antidepressants, and these substances can alter someone’s perception, sense of time, and emotions. Some of these substances naturally occur in fungi, vines, leaves, and seeds while others are made in the laboratory.
LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) is extracted from ergot, a fungus that grows with rye. Psilocybin and DMT are extracted from mushrooms.
Most of the naturally occurring ones were first used by various ancient cultures for mystical practices, mainly because they have hallucinogenic properties. Common psychedelics include magic mushrooms, Ayahuasca, and psilocybin.
Despite these substances being natural, psychedelics can cause several side effects, including bad trips and flashbacks. Bad trips are dangerous hallucinations that could cause effects such as panic attacks, suicide attempts, and destructive actions.
Seeing flashbacks is like experiencing a psychedelic experience even after the drugs have worn off. This side effect could be due to physical exercise, stress, and fatigue and can occur months or years after taking the substances. You can also experience other side effects, including blurred vision, dizziness, sweating, nausea, numbness, and erratic breathing.
The effect may be different depending on your body size, weight, health, and the amount you’ve taken. It could also be affected by the strength of the batch and whether you’re using it with other drugs. We recommend taking these substances in the presence of trusted individuals and avoiding them altogether if your family has a history of mental health conditions.
Can You Use Psychedelics With Other Drugs?
The effects of psychedelics and antidepressants are already unpredictable, and mixing them with drugs such as alcohol and prescription medications can bring adverse results. Combining these drugs may cause an increased heart rate, anxiety, a lack of balance, and panic attacks.
Antidepressants will react differently from patient to patient, and finding the right drug and dosage will need patience. We don’t recommend self-medication because of how specific these drugs are. They’re also not magic drugs, and it will take quite some time for the side effects to stabilize and the drugs to start experiencing positive results.
You need to be in constant communication with your doctor before, during, and after taking these drugs to discuss any health concerns and side effects. You should also finish your recommended dosage to avoid a relapse.