Depression affects millions of Americans. Whether it is a temporary “down” feeling, or a deeply rooted chemical imbalance, antidepressant drugs are often prescribed in order to help someone feel like themselves again. So what is the purpose of antidepressant drugs, and what do they do? Generally, these drugs act as nerve receptors that “turn on” the good feelings within the brain. They often assist in the production of serotonin, which is a chemical in the brain that produces feelings of happiness and well-being.
There are many different classes of antidepressant drugs. Each class typically has a different effect on the brain, and is prescribed in varying doses. The most popular antidepressant drugs on the market today are Wellbutrin (in various forms), Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil. All of these are designed to assist people suffering from depression with feeling well again. Many trials and studies have been performed, and are still being performed to assist doctors with learning how to find the right combination of drugs to create a more balanced result.
A very common way that many doctors prescribe antidepressant drugs is to do something called “switching”. This process involves giving a patient a certain class of a drug for about six to eight weeks, then switching the drug to another one within the same class, and then finally moving up or down to a totally different class of antidepressant. In many cases this has been found to be fairly effective in most patients. There are many other supplemental treatments in addition to antidepressant drugs alone, such as psychotherapy and counseling, to only name a couple. The biggest thing to be wary about when taking the drugs is the possibility of tolerance, which means eventually the user gets used to the effects of the drug and it is no longer effective, and withdrawal, which means if their doctor lowers or removes the dosage, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. In most cases, however, antidepressants are an important factor in helping people who suffer from this terrible disease and allow them to feel better overall.
Disclaimer: Cliff Schaffer does not personally endorse or support any of the comments made within the writings of this article.