Using Depression Medications to Correct Chemical Imbalances

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There are many reasons someone could be experiencing signs of depression. It can be caused by a triggering event, like an accident, the passing of a loved one, the loss of a job, or a relationship ending and sometimes it’s caused by a chemical imbalance. In the last decade treatment for depression has evolved by offering patients more options in both medication and different types of therapeutic treatment. A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that approximately 12 percent of Americans take antidepressants every day.

What Causes Symptoms of Depression?

While it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what causes depression, there are a variety of factors that could be involved, including biological factors, hormones, brain chemistry, and inherited traits. Specific changes in your hormone balances, brain physiology, and brain chemistry can trigger symptoms of depression. For example, low levels of serotonin (the feel-good hormone) can cause depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and panic disorders.

Those suffering from addiction are also likely to report symptoms of depression. If you are using substances like prescription medications, alcohol, or recreational drugs and are experiencing symptoms of depression, a qualified medical professional can help determine the proper course of treatment.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

The symptoms of depression can vary depending on age, gender and economic status. Women are more likely to exhibit symptoms like sadness, hopelessness, tiredness, and sleep disturbances while men are more likely to report angry outbursts and irritability.

Depression can also present itself physically with unexplained headaches, back pain, or other aches and pains. Depression can affect your energy level, productivity and overall health of inter personal relationships. Hormones play a part in depression particularly in teens. During the developmental stages a teen experiences, there can be surges of hormones affecting mood and dietary habits. Depression can also contribute to over eating or a person withholding food.

Teens in particular are also vulnerable to depression and are often under attacks to their self-esteem by peers and the general nature and hormonal changes during this time in their lives. Depression in teens is represented by sadness and irritability, anger, physical outbursts, refusing to go to school, poor performance in school, self-harm, and loss of interest in normal activities.

Whatever the stage of life, if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s important to get help from a compassionate clinician, like those at Core Recovery.

What are Depression Medications?

Medication for depression and anxiety were first introduced in the 1950s. Since then, the medications have evolved. There are five main classes of depression medication. They are:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) – This class of antidepressants is less likely to cause severe side effects and is also probably composed of the most recognized brands. They include Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil.
  • Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) – One example of this class is the brand name Cymbalta (Duloxetine).
  • A-typical Antidepressants – This class of antidepressants doesn’t fit into the other categories. An example is Wellbutrin (Bupropion).
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants – While this class of antidepressants has been around the longest, they also tend to cause more side effects and are typically not prescribed on the first try. Brands include Tofranil (Imipramine).
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) – These are more of a last resort option, if none of the other classes of antidepressants are working. There are some pretty strict rules when taking MAOIs because they can have extremely dangerous interactions with other medications and even some food groups. An example of MAOIs is Parnate (Tranylcypromine).

Most of these medications work by affecting the neurotransmitters associated with chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. When prescribing, doctors will take into consideration everything from what other medications you’re taking to health concerns you may have, whether family members are successfully taking a specific medication for depression, or what your symptoms of depression are. Whichever medication is prescribed, it’s important to take the medications as instructed by the doctor and to avoid stopping them without doctor supervision.

Why is Skipping Doses of Antidepressants a Bad Idea?

When first prescribed antidepressants, you may experience some side effects like dry mouth or headaches. However, consistently taking the medication can help these side effects fade faster. Antidepressants also take time to take effect and to decrease symptoms of depression. Consult your doctor about when you should notice a difference, and if the side effects are getting worse instead of better or if you do not see a change in symptoms, call the prescribing doctor.

It may seem like a good idea to stop taking the medications if you’re feeling better (or if you feel like they’re not working). However, it’s not a good idea to stop taking medication without consulting your prescribing physician first. Often, you’re feeling better because the medication is balancing the chemicals in your brain. Also, know that it can take up to 3 months of being off your medications for you to see that the medication was helping all along. Also, antidepressants can cause withdrawal-like symptoms and you need to be monitored while tapering off of them.

Antidepressants and Risk of Suicide

The FDA requires all manufacturers of antidepressants to put ‘black box warnings’ on the medication to warn of potential increases in suicidal thoughts and behavior. These risks are higher during the first few weeks of taking these medications, a dose change, or for patients under the age of 25 years old. 

Are you experiencing symptoms of depression? Is a loved one or teen showing signs they may be experiencing depression? Reach out to schedule a consultation about our integrative care model IOP and PHP programs to help treat the causes and symptoms of depression.

Jordan in is a healthcare entrepreneur who has partnered with practices across the United States to expand services to meet the needs of their respective communities.



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