To Take or Not to Take Antidepressants?


woman pondering question

Antidepressants are often used to treat social anxiety disorder, general anxiety disorders, and forms of depression. Medical News Today notes that there are many kinds of antidepressants, such as noradrenaline and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NASSAs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and tricyclics. As you can see with many categories, not all antidepressants are the same, each can vary in symptoms from one person to another. Making the decision to take antidepressants is to consider the pros and cons to determine what works best for you.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine claims that antidepressants are meant to relieve symptoms of depression and prevent them from coming back, restore emotional balance, help people manage everyday tasks, and to relieve symptoms such as restlessness, anxiety, sleep problems, and suicidal thoughts. The National Center for Biotechnology Information emphasized that in a previous study with 100 people taking a placebo and another 100 people taking antidepressants, about 20-40 of the placebo participants noticed an improvement in their symptoms within 6 to 8 weeks, and approximately 40 to 60 of the antidepressant group noticed improvement in their symptoms within 6-8 weeks. Additionally, about 50 of 100 participants in the placebo group had a relapse within one to two years, and approximately 23 of the 100 participants who took antidepressants had a relapse within one to two years. Thus, antidepressants seem to have worked for some people in reducing symptoms related to their depression and/or anxiety.

There are many risks to consider as well. Harvard Medical School has noted that the side of effects of many antidepressants are not pleasant, including insomnia, skin rashes, headaches, joint and muscle pain, stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, reduced blood clotting capacity, increased risk for stomach or uterine bleeding, and more. Involuntary movements, such as tics, muscle spasms, dyskinesia (repetitive muscle movements), parkinsonism (rigid and trembling limbs), and more are also of concern. Many patients who take antidepressants lose sexual interest, desire, performance, and/or satisfaction. When taken with other drugs, antidepressants can be dangerous. Discontinuing the medication can also bring about intense side effects such as dizziness, loss of coordination, fatigue, tingling, burning, blurred vision, insomnia and more.

Speak with your doctor to determine what would work best for you. There are forms of treatment out there that are more holistic in nature, such as cognitive behavioral therapy to change old, negative thought patterns into more positive, productive ones. No matter what you decide, always be careful, know what you are taking and how much you should take, and notify your doctor if anything is of concern.

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