Antidepressants are an important part of the treatment for depression. With the help of antidepressants, prescribed alone or along with psychotherapy or counseling, the great majority of adults who suffer with depression improve, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH).
Depression is a complex brain disorder that affects how well nerve cells in certain parts of the brain work. Antidepressants improve the way some of those brain cells work and change the activity of certain chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Antidepressants are powerful medications that affect people mentally, emotionally, and physically and must be taken with care to increase their benefits and decrease their chances of any serious side effects.
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Each year millions of Americans are prescribed antidepressants. There are many types of antidepressants. Medications include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac, Lexapro, Zoloft, Celexa and Paxil, serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like Cymbalta and Effexor, tricyclic antidepressants including Elavil, Norpramin, Tofranil and others including Remeron, Wellbutrin, and Emsam. Many of these medications are used to treat depression, panic disorder, and compulsive behavior.
These medications work by affecting substances in the brain called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters include serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
If you take an antidepressant, it's important to continue to do so for at least four to nine months after you begin to feel better, to prevent a recurrence of the depression. Discuss with your doctor if discontinuing your medication is a good idea. If it is, the doctor will usually give you instructions to gradually reduce your dose. You should have no trouble with withdrawal symptoms if you follow your provider's instructions. But some people experience withdrawal side effects when discontinuing medication; these side effects can include balance problems, flu-like symptoms, blurred vision, irritability, tingling sensations, vivid dreams, nervousness and nausea. If you do, these should be reported to your doctor promptly.
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