The below information is an introduction to some of the commonly prescribed antidepressants (not by brand name).When treating mental illness such as clinical depression there may be a need for prescribed medication, for further information about specific medication please speak to your doctor or health provider.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are one of the most common used antidepressants on the market. Serotonin levels are believed to effect mood, by reducing the reuptake of serotonin by neurotransmitters in the brain, SSRIs work to facilitate an increased serotonin level. It is believed that by maintaining the increased levels of serotonin in the brain SSRIs can lead users to experience an elevation in their mood and therefore a reduction in their symptoms.
As with all medication users can experience certain side effects, in relation to SSRI’s however users can experience an increase desire to commit suicide within the first few weeks of taking the drug, which is why it is not usually prescribed to patients under eighteen. User’s usually require two to four weeks of treatment prior to experiencing the effects though if the effects are not experienced at six to eight weeks the prescription is either increased or an alternate medication offered. Though they are not often addictive users are advised to reduce dosage over time in order not to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are used in the treatment of depression and certain types of anxiety disorders. Develops in the 1990’s they are one of the newer forms of treatment within the mental health management field. SNRIs work by preventing the reuptake of serotonin and noradrenalin by neurotransmitters in the brain. Both serotonin and norepinephrine have been found to effect mood and an increase in both levels have been linked to a boost in mood hence the antidepressant effect.
Most users will not experience the beneficial effects of the drug until approximately 4- 6 weeks of usage, during which time the patient may experience dizzyness, headaches, insomnia and anxiety. SNRIs however have a higher selection rate than the Tricylic drugs, making them better at targeting Norepinephrine and serotonin, which is believed to cause less side effects to users. Patients who have any existing liver problems may be advised not to take SNRIs as the drugs are processed in the liver. The reduced capacity of the liver to function fully can lead to high levels of the drug in the patients system, which can increase the likelihood of side effects.
Tricyclic and tricyclic-related drugs
Tricyclic and tricyclic related drugs were some of the earliest forms of antidepressants on the market named after their ring shaped chemical structure, tricyclic (three rings) or tetracyclic (four rings). Cyclic antidepressants work by preventing the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin while blocking the action of another neurotransmitter; acetylcholine.
Tricyclic and tricyclic related antidepressants are used to treat depression, migraines, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and some forms of pain. Though they are mainly used in the treatment of depression they can cause sedation and have an antihistamine effect.
Taking Tricyclic and tricyclic related drugs may cause blurred vision, dry mouth, increased heart rate and cause sexual dysfunction among other possible side effects. Patients with a history of seizures are usually prescribed the drug with caution as it has been found to increase the risk of seizures occurring.
When discontinuing use of the drugs patients may experience withdrawal symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, nauseas and restlessness, these symptoms may occur even where a few doses of the drug are missed. Patients are therefore gradually taken off the drug when it is no longer required.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) were the first antidepressant drug on the market after the mood enhancing effect was noticed during its use to treat tuberculosis in the 1950’s. The enzyme monoamine oxidase is required for the reuptake of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine within the brain. By preventing the removal of the neurotransmitters MAOIs facilitate an elevated number of neurotransmitters in the brain, which has been linked to a reduction in depression symptoms.
MAOIs are now prescribed as a last resort when patients have seen little benefits from the use of antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
There are certain side effects associated with the usage of MOAIs, which include, insomnia, weight gain, skin reactions, headaches and drowsiness. The use of MAOIs by patients often require dietary restrictions that require users to avoid foods containing high levels of tyramine an amino acid that regulates blood pressure as the interaction can lead to high blood pressure. Foods such as cured meats, aged cheese, fermented beers and soy products are high in tyramine and therefore not advised to be consumed while taking this medication.
Withdrawal symptoms have been likened to the flu with patients experiencing chills, sweating, headaches, nauseas and a generally feeling of being unwell. Anxiety, agitation and insomnia may also accompany withdrawal.