Antidepressants are a group of drugs that can help reduce the symptoms of depression, allowing people to regain their focus, energy and motivation.
Let’s dive into the world of antidepressants and explore how they work, the different types, and the benefits and side effects that can be associated with their use.
How do antidepressants work?
Antidepressants generally work by changing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters, which control mood, emotions and behavior.
They aim to increase levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, which are thought to be involved in mood regulation.
Classes of antidepressants.
There are several different types of antidepressants that all work in different ways to affect the levels of certain chemicals in the brain and improve the symptoms of depression.
Some common classes of antidepressants include the following:
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. They work by stopping or delaying the reuptake of serotonin by the body, leaving more available to the brain.
Serotonin plays an important role in regulating mood, sleep, and appetite, and having more in the body can significantly reduce symptoms of depression.
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
As their name suggests, SNRIs work by preventing the body from taking up serotonin and norepinephrine, leaving more for the brain. Noradrenaline is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood, energy, and alertness.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).
TCAs were one of the first classes of antidepressants developed. They work by increasing serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. The main difference between TCAs and SNRIs is that TCAs are less selective than SSRIs, which means they have the ability to affect many body systems.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
MAOIs work by blocking the enzyme monoamine oxidase, which breaks down serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. By blocking this enzyme, MAOIs increase levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain, which can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
What are the common side effects of antidepressants?
Like all other drugs, antidepressants also have side effects. Although side effects can vary depending on the type of medication the patient is taking, some commonly reported side effects of antidepressants include:
Nausea and vomiting
Insomnia or drowsiness
Dizziness or vertigo
Diarrhea or constipation
Weight gain or loss
Sexual problems, such as decreased libido or difficulty reaching climax
Increased anxiety or worry.
In some cases, antidepressants can also cause more serious side effects, such as an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior, especially in young people.
Natural alternatives to antidepressants.
Here are some popular natural remedies for depression symptoms:
Include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
Practice meditation and other mindfulness practices.