Are Antidepressants Safe? How Do Antidepressants Work?

The symptoms of depression, social anxiety disorder, anxiety disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and dysthymia, mild or chronic depression, and many other conditions are usually relieved by the use of medication called Antidepressants.

Imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain is believed to be the cause of changes in mood and behavior. Antidepressants are used to correct this imbalance. They were first developed in the 50s and in the last 20 years their used has become more commonly used.

In the USA, the percentage of 12-year-old and older people rose from 7.7% around the year 2000 to 12.7% up to 2014 according to the centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Almost twice as many women use antidepressants as men.

Types of Antidepressants


            These kinds of antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed ones. Serotonin and noradrenaline neuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are prescribed to fight mayor depression, mood disorder, and possibly but nor vey commonly deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders, menopausal symptoms, among many others.

For stabilizing mood, SNRIs are meant to raise the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, which are to neurotransmitters in the brain. Duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor), and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) are just some examples.

The most commonly prescribed antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They have fewer side effects that most prescribed antidepressants and they are effective in the treating of depression.

SSRIs make it easier for the brain cells to receive and send information by blocking the reuptake, or absorption of serotonin in the brain. The reason they are called “selective” is because they only affect serotonin and no other neurotransmitters.

SSRIs and SNRIs may have these effects:

  • Low sodium
  • Nausea
  • Hypoglusemia, or low blood sugar
  • Dry mouth
  • Rash
  • Sweating
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Tremor
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Abnormal thinking

Example of these kinds of antidepressants is citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluvoxamine (Luvox), sertraline (Zoloft), and paroxetine (Paxil).

Some reports say that when people start using these drugs, some of them might begin having suicidal thoughts especially if they are less than 18 years old.

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

            They are used to treat depression, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and they are used to control some kinds of anxiety. There are three rings in the structure of TCAs, and that is the reason why these medications are so named.

Tricyclic Antidepressants can present the following side effects:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Rash
  • Hyper tension
  • Arrhythmia
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Urinary retention
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • High pressure on the eye

Some examples of TCA include: amitriptyline (Elavil), desipramine (Norpramin), amoxapine-clomipramine (Anafranil), Doxepin (Sinequean), imipramine (Toframil), among many others.

There are a lot many other kinds of antidepressants with many different side effects. It is necessary to say that you need to be aware of your options and ask your doctor which one is the best for your case. Remember never to take any of these kinds of medication without prescription.