Depression DrugDepression is a common and treatable mental health condition that can affect any one of us at any point in our lives. If you are suffering from depression, then it is highly likely that some form of medication will be prescribed by your doctor. There are many different types of drugs available, each with their own pros and cons, but basically all of them work by altering the activity of chemicals in the brain that have an impact on our mood.
The type of drug recommended will depend very much on the nature of the depression, the severity of the symptoms and an individual's personal medical history. It is important to remember that antidepressants can take several weeks for any beneficial effects to be noticed and as with all medications; there is the possibility of experiencing some side effects.
The following describes the more common types of drugs which are used to treat depression, along with some popular brand names (generic names in brackets), their uses and their associated side effects.
Tricyclics work mainly by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norephinephrine. Some of the more common brands include:
? Adapin (Doxepin) - used on a short term basis to treat various types of depression as well as other conditions
? Anafranil (Clomipramine) - used to treat depression and obsessive compulsive disorders
? Aventyl (Trimipramine) and Tofranil (Imipramine) - used for short-term treatment of various types of depression as well as other conditions such as nerve pain and helping prevent migraine attacks
The more common side effects associated with these types of antidepressants include headaches, dizziness, weight gain, dry mouth, nausea, blurred vision and constipation.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
This type of drug works by helping to balance the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. For example:
? Nardil (Phenelzine) - used to treat depression as well as other conditions including panic attacks, eating disorders and cocaine addiction.
Side effects associated with MAOIs include drowsiness, digestive problems, anxiety and nightmares, insomnia, dry mouth and weakness.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
SSRIs work by inhibiting the reuptake of the neurotransmitter Serotonin in the brain. They are newer than the other forms of antidepressant and proving more popular as they are generally considered safer to use. Some common brands include:
? Prozac (Fluoxetine) - often used to treat depression, obsessive compulsive disorders, and eating disorders as well as other conditions
? Paxil (Paroxetine) - can be used to treat depression and some anxiety disorders as well as other conditions
? Zoloft (Sertraline) - this drug is used to treat depression and other conditions including panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder
Common side effects associated with SSRIs include nervousness, sleep disturbances, headaches, dry mouth, tremors, digestive disturbances and sweating.
Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs),
SNRIs work by inhibiting the reuptake of both Serotonin and Norephinephrine, and include:
? Effexor (Venlafaxine) - used to treat depression and some anxiety disorders. Side effects include nervousness, dizziness, sleep disturbances, digestive disturbances, constipation, dry mouth, loss of appetite
Other types of prescribed drugs
There are other drugs available to treat depression but which don't fall into any of the previous categories. For example:
? Wellbutrin (Bupropion) - used to treat depression and sometimes to help with stopping smoking. It works by increasing the levels of norephinephrine and dopamine in the brain. Side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, headache, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, agitation, constipation
? Lithium (Lithium Carbonate) - often used to treat a more severe form of depression known as Bipolar or Manic Depression. It works as a mood stabiliser to balance out the highs and lows associated with manic depression. Side effects include increased thirst, frequent urination, drowsiness, tremors and nausea
Over the counter medicines
There are many preparations on the market that can be bought over the counter, which are probably more suited to milder forms of depression. Even apparently safe medications can interact with other types of drugs and prove harmful, so before taking any alternative or herbal preparation, it is always best to discuss it with a qualified practitioner first. Examples include:
? SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine) - appears to work by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain
? St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) ? works similar to Prozac by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin. Can interact with other medications so important to seek medical advice
? 5-HTP (5-hydroxytyptophan) ? increases serotonin levels and improves sleep patters
? Fish Oil (Eicosapentaenoic acid or Docosahexaenoic acid) ? improves blood flow to the brain and inter neural connectivity, also increases serotonin levels
? Homeopathic Remedies ?It is advisable to seek the advice of a qualified practitioner. The British Homeopathic Association provides a list of homeopaths in the UK and The National Center for Homeopathy can provide the same in the USA.
It is impossible to know which type of drug or treatment will be most effective for whom so it may be a case of trying more than one. The best person to advise you on the suitability of any depression drug, prescribed or otherwise, is your doctor, as he or she will be able to take into account your full medical history, the nature of your depression, and any other relevant factors, before discussing appropriate treatment options for you.
Depression and anxiety are serious conditions that can strike anyone at anytime. For more information about depression and self help come and visit http://www.fightingdepression.co.uk