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People suffering from the depression are prescribed antidepressants. Antidepressants are medicines effective in reducing the symptoms of depression. The choice of antidepressant depends entirely on how severe the depression is, on age and the medical history of the patient. Antidepressants are taken for months usually, even years can pass before visible results are seen. Alongside antidepressants, psychological treatments or psychotherapy can be included in the full treatment. However, these kinds of therapy are usually given to patients with mild depression. Antidepressants directly affect neurotransmitters by improving their function. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals which transmit signals to other nerve cells.

Types of antidepressants

Serotonin and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters that control our emotional states and moods and have a significant role in the process of thinking, eating, sleeping and feeling pain. Antidepressants soothe the depression and sadness and over time recover energy that depressed people lack. These medicines are taken for five to six months, even longer in more severe cases.

Antidepressants can be divided into three categories: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (tricyclics) and others. SSRI antidepressants influence only on one neurotransmitter - serotonin, and usually do not have adverse side effects like other groups of antidepressants. Some of the medicines belonging to this group are paroxetine (Paxil®), fluoxetine (Prozac Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE ®), citalopram (Celexa ®), sertraline (Zoloft®) and others.

A person can feel nauseous and irritable when taking these medicines. Other side effects include sleeping disorders, problems with libido, headaches and dryness of the throat and mouth. A person can have occasional diarrhea and feel fatigue.

Unlike SSRI antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants or tricyclics affect both serotonin and norepinephrine and interact with other substances in the body. Tricyclics affect eyesight so a person can sometimes see blurring images. A person often feels tired and without energy, unable and unwilling to think properly. They also affect the gastrointestinal and urinary tract and blood pressure, so constipation or discomforts in urinating are also side effects. Some of these medicines are imipramine (Tofranil®), nortriptyline, amitriptyline (Elavil®), desipramine (Norpramin®).

Other antidepressants include mirtazapine, nefayadone, bupropion, monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Besides the above mentioned side effects, these antidepressants cause higher blood pressure, increased heart beating, irritability, loss of appetite and some patients even put on weight. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors often cause headaches and shaking. Antidepressants at first can intensify depression symptoms which ease over time. Often they even trigger suicidal thinking and mood changes. Therefore, medicines should be taken only if prescribed by the doctor and at prescribed doses. Alcohol or psychoactive substances and other antidepressants should not be combined due to the undesirable interactions.

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