Do Antidepressants really work? Here’s everything you need to know

While many people feel that antidepressants help to lower symptoms of depression, you may not feel better right away. It is important to know what an antidepressant does and how it will affect you.
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Depression is a serious mental disorder. When you’re suffering from depression, the idea that a pill can make you feel better is very appealing. However, are antidepressants the best way to cure this? What are the side effects? The questions are endless. So, what exactly are antidepressants? They are a range of medicines used in the treatment of depression, social anxiety disorder, anxiety disorders and other mental conditions. These medicines are designed to balance chemicals in the brain that affect our mood and emotions. 

How Do Antidepressants Work?

Antidepressants reduce symptoms of depression by correcting the chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are vital, as they communicate between the nerve cells. They reside between the vesicles found in the nerve cells of the brain. Neurotransmitters are released by one nerve and taken up by the other. If the other nerve does not take it up, the same nerve takes it up. This process is called reuptake. The neurotransmitters in the brain related to depression are serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. 

The antidepressants inhibit the reuptake of specific neurotransmitters. This increases their levels around the nerves within the brain. 

When depression is severe, medication may be helpful. However, research shows that very few people become symptom-free on antidepressants.


What if the Antidepressants Don’t Work?

It usually takes at least 3-4 weeks before you notice change in your mood. It might take longer too.  If you do not notice any change in mood, talk to your doctor. There are chances that if one antidepressant doesn’t work, the other might. A study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health in 2008 says that about 50% patients who did not feel better using the first medicine, felt better after using a new or added second medicine. You and your doctor can work together to find the best medicine for you.


What are the Side Effects of Antidepressants?

  • Weight gain
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Headache
  • Sleeplessness

Side Effects of Antidepressants

  • Dizziness
  • Irritability 
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety

Different antidepressants cause different side effects. Some are likely to cause more side effects. However, it is difficult to tell what side effects you may experience till you take one. Many side effects last for a few days to weeks then get better. On the other hand, some may last till you take the medicine.

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