Mental wellness, Stress & Depression

Side effects of antidepressants

Depression is a widespread yet often misunderstood disorder. According to WHO, 5 crore Indians suffer from depression and 7.5% Indians suffer mood disorders.  Most people after being diagnosed with depression, are prescribed antidepressants medication. Many suffer from the side effects of using the same.

What is depression?

Depressed people often experience an emptiness that they can’t escape. Often depression is accompanied by anxiety. People with depression can’t simply snap out of it. Depression affects a person’s work, family relationships, social life, and daily activities.

Mode of action

Mode of action of antidepressants

Often people use the terms depression and sadness interchangeably. While sadness is temporary, depression is a chronic mood disorder characterized by an increased feeling of isolation, loneliness, and loss of interest in otherwise enjoyable activities.

Mode of action of antidepressants

Antidepressants are used for treating depression and reducing its symptoms. It must be noted that antidepressants can’t completely cure depression. Antidepressants work on reducing specific symptoms.  
There are various classes of antidepressants that are categorized according to their mechanism, pathway, and functioning. Our brain has certain chemicals called neurotransmitters which carry information from one neuron to the other.
The neurotransmitters involved with depressive disorder are serotonin which affects mood and anxiety, norepinephrine, and dopamine which controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.
Most antidepressants work by altering brain chemistry to help relieve mood. The commonly prescribed classes of antidepressants are-

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)

SSRIs are generally prescribed first by doctors as they are fairly safe due to lack of any major side effects. These drugs work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Usually, serotonin in the brain is reabsorbed almost immediately. The SSRIs block the reuptake of serotonin thereby increasing levels in the brain and improving mood and emotions.
Side effects: Dizziness, altered sex drive, anxiety, shakiness, mood swings
Found in: Fluoxetine, paroxetine , and sertraline. 

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI)

This helps in reducing irritability and sadness. Similar to SSRIs, SNRIs inhibit the reuptake of norepinephrine in addition to serotonin.
Side effects: Nausea, Mouth dryness, Tiredness, Headaches and dizziness, Loss of appetite
Found in: duloxetine, venlafaxine, desvenlafaxine and Levo milnacipran 

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA)

These depressants are usually associated with greater risk due to possible side effects. They also act on serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.
Side effects: Weight fluctuations, increased heart rate, blurred vision
Found in: amitriptyline, clomipramine, and imipramine.

Side effects of antidepressants

Despite having numerous side effects, antidepressants are still widely prescribed. Antidepressants up the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts.Another side effect called serotonin toxicity causes tremors and agitation. They can also lead to confusion and mania in the patient.


Side effects of antidepressants

If taken during pregnancy, they can lead to birth defects in the baby. Some antidepressants can cause appetite changes. Another side effect is that of emotional numbing. Patients may be unable to feel happy or sad.

Withdrawl symptoms

On stopping these antidepressants, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms are observed such as nausea and vomiting accompanied by headaches and insomnia. The patient becomes confused and disoriented and motor movements become imbalanced.The alternatives for antidepressant drugs are talk therapy and counseling.
Although antidepressants may reduce symptoms of depression, they can cause many unwarranted side effects. These need to be observed by your practitioner before you continue with a given course of treatment.
So these are some of our thoughts on antidepressants.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *