An antidepressant is a medication that is taken to help relieve symptoms of mild to severe depression and anxiety disorders. The aim is to correct chemical imbalances in the brain that negatively affect a person’s mood.
Antidepressants alone will not cure depression, so the patient will need a combination of treatment methods – such as also having cognitive behavioral therapy. That said, it is important to find the right kind of antidepressant that works for you as part of your overall solution.
How Antidepressants Work
Doctors believe that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance that affects nervous connections. What antidepressant medications do is increase the availability of neurotransmitters, which are usually severely affected by the chemical imbalance.
The balance achieved helps stabilize the person’s mood. Antidepressants not only help to mitigate depression but also help to curb anxiety.
Frequently Prescribed Antidepressants
When prescribing an antidepressant, your doctor will choose a medication that should minimize your particular symptoms. There are antidepressants that act as a nighttime sleep aid, and there are some that increase your appetite. These affects will be considered by your doctor so that an existing condition is not worsened.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
SSRIs are antidepressants that are serotonin-specific, meaning that they affect only the serotonin neurotransmitter. They work by blocking the absorption of serotonin in the brain, which helps stabilize a person’s mood. They tend to have fewer side effects than other antidepressants.
Some examples of SSRIs are Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft.
Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors
SNRIs are antidepressants that block the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine in order to stabilize the patient’s mood. They can also be prescribed to treat anxiety and chronic nerve pain.
Some examples of SNRIs are Cymbalta, Effexor, and Pristiq.
TCAs are named after the three rings in their chemical structure (tri + cycle). They not only treat depression and anxiety but also control chronic pain.
TCAs tend to cause more side effects than the other antidepressants, so they are generally prescribed only after other options have failed to work. Examples of TCAs are Surmontil, Sinequan, and Elavil.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
Before SSRIs and SNRIs were available, doctors would prescribe MAOIs. An MAOI inhibits the action of a brain enzyme called monoamine oxidase, which breaks down serotonin.
The less serotonin that needs to break down, the more stable the mood. Doctors usually prescribe MAOIs only if SSRIs have not been effective for a patient.
Psychiatric Services in Connecticut
Antidepressants alone will usually not be enough to treat symptoms of depression or anxiety, but they are a start. They are most effective when taken as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
At Psy-Visions, we do not believe in just writing prescriptions – and if we do prescribe an antidepressant or other medication, we always prescribe the lowest possible doses. We offer plenty of different treatment options so that you may choose one that you feel most comfortable with.
Call our office today at (203) 405-1745 to schedule an appointment. You may also request an appointment online. Let us help create an individualized treatment plan that is specific to you based on your needs and comfort level – so you can feel like yourself again.