Upon presenting a general practitioner (GP) with symptoms of depression, indicating that they are having a significant effect on day to day activities and have been present for a minimum of two weeks. The Doctor is most likely to prescribe a course of anti-depressant medication to help alleviate the symptoms.
Common anti-depressants prescribed include:
- Paxil or Prozac: Prozac is probably the most well known form of anti-depressant medication, both Paxil and Prozac are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) they work by increasing the levels of serotonin within the brain which is commonly referred to as the ‘Feel Good’ hormone.
- Parnate or Nardil: Parnate and Nardil are antidepressant not as widely prescribed today as they were some years ago. These medications are Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs). They block the Monoamine Oxidase receptor sites in the brain. This means that there are more noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters available to enhance mood.
- Pamelor or Elavil: Pamelor or Elavil are two types of antidepressants known as Tricyclics their effects are more wide spread throughout the brain in comparison to other anti-depressant medication. They work by increasing the levels of serotonin and noradrenaline in the brain which has a positive effect on mood.
Common side effects of
There are a number of known side effects for each different type of anti-depressants.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors are widely regarded as the safest antidepressant available, however can cause emotional problems such as anxiety, decreased libido and in some cases sexual dysfunction, as well as fatigue and insomnia.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors have been found to be lethal is consumed with foods that contain tyramine such as some alcohol beverages, some fresh fish, yeast and large quantities of caffeine.
Finally, Tricyclics can cause unpleasant side effects including dizziness, constipation, fatigue, excessively dry mouth as well as more serious problems such as confusion, significantly increased heart rate and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats). Other discrepancies arises over the efficiency of antidepressants. As the name suggests, these drugs are taken to alleviate symptoms of depression, however, there are some questions as to how well they do this. Anti-depressants, are taken to normalise brain chemical levels and functions within the brain with a particular emphasis on the role of serotonin. However, this is not believed to be the only cause of depression. Researchers, neuroscientists and doctors are not even entirely sure what normal levels of serotonin within the brain should be or what happens to these levels during an episode of depression. In addition to this, anti-depressant medication has not been found to cure depression indefinitely. Between 50 and 60 percent of anti-depressant users will relapse and meet the criteria for a subsequent episode of depression.
There are a number of other means of addressing depression such as Mindfulness Meditation and Symran (sound meditation) these treatments are non-toxic and allow the user to take control of their own well being rather than being dependent on a drug to feel good.