Antidepressants have been the go-to method for treating depression, anxiety and stress-related disorders since they were first approved in the United States. And although it is an effective treatment option, antidepressants also have potentially dangerous side effects that can make it impossible to keep them as a part of your daily routine.
1. Antidepressants are associated with suicide.
The effects of antidepressants on the brain are complex, and it's hard to pinpoint exactly how they work. But one thing is clear — they affect brain chemistry. And the most common class of antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, appetite and other functions.
Serotonin is made from an amino acid called tryptophan, which we get from food such as cheese, eggs and meat. SSRIs block the reuptake of serotonin by nerve cells so more remains in the spaces between them. This boosts levels of serotonin in your brain and can help relieve depression symptoms.
But increasing levels of serotonin can also cause problems if you have an imbalance between serotonin and another neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine regulates movement, emotion and pleasure-related behaviors like eating and sex. It's like a seesaw: If one side rises too high while the other dips low, you'll feel unbalanced or confused — just like when one leg feels heavier than the other after running uphill for a while!
2. Antidepressants can have unpleasant side effects such as nausea and headaches.
Antidepressants have been used to treat depression for decades. They can be very effective, but they aren't right for everyone. They work by increasing the brain chemical serotonin, which is responsible for mood regulation and sleep cycles. When someone takes an antidepressant, it can take a few weeks before they feel its full effects.
During this time, some people experience nausea or headaches due to withdrawal from other drugs they may have been using — including alcohol, marijuana or benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety drugs). These effects usually go away after a few days as your body adjusts to the medication. If you continue taking an antidepressant after this time, you may develop more serious side effects from long-term use such as weight gain or sexual dysfunction.
3. Antidepressants may lead to weight gain and/or loss of appetite, depending on the type of drug you're using
If you're taking antidepressants, you may have noticed that you're gaining weight or losing your appetite. This is because each type of antidepressant has different effects, and some may lead to weight gain while others lead to weight loss.
This phenomenon can be especially problematic for those who are already overweight or obese. In these cases, antidepressants can exacerbate existing weight problems, leading to a vicious cycle of gaining more weight as the body struggles to respond to drug-induced changes in appetite and metabolism.
In addition, other factors such as age and gender may also play a role in determining how much weight change occurs when using antidepressants. Women tend to experience more dramatic changes in both directions than men do.
4 . Antidepressant medications can lower sex drive in both men and women
Both men and women can experience low libido as a result of taking an antidepressant. In some cases, the diminished sex drive may be so severe that it interferes with your ability to function on a daily basis.
There are several reasons why antidepressants can lower your sex drive. Medications typically work by altering chemicals in the brain that affect mood and behavior. Unfortunately, these same chemicals also play an important role in sexual desire and performance.
Many antidepressants target serotonin, which is believed to play an important role in regulating sexual desire and arousal. It's possible that the effect of these medications on serotonin levels might lead to lower libido over time.
5. Antidepressants can cause dry mouth and constipation.
Dry mouth is a common side effect of antidepressants, and it can be embarrassing at the best of times. But it's not just the feeling of your mouth being parched that you should worry about—it's also possible that this could lead to tooth decay. When you have no saliva in your mouth, the bacteria in toothpaste have nothing to wash away, so they can get trapped in between teeth and damage enamel. Dry mouth can also make it harder to swallow, which can cause choking or aspiration pneumonia.
Constipation is another common side effect of antidepressants, and it's also one of the most uncomfortable ones for patients. Constipation causes bloating, abdominal pain, and general discomfort; it can also lead to hemorrhoids if left untreated. The symptoms are usually temporary as long as you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day—but if they don't go away after two weeks then you should talk with your doctor about switching medications or changing up your diet (more fiber).
6. Antidepressants cause drowsiness and sleepiness
Antidepressants can cause drowsiness and sleepiness for a number of reasons. First, they work by increasing the amount of certain chemical messengers in the brain. These messengers are called neurotransmitters. When they're released, they can cause symptoms like drowsiness and sleepiness.
The second reason is that many antidepressants are used to treat anxiety disorders. These disorders often include sleeplessness as a symptom—and so when you take an antidepressant to treat anxiety, it's not surprising that you may feel more tired than usual.
Another reason that antidepressants can cause drowsiness and sleepiness is because they affect your body's internal clock (or circadian rhythm). This means that even if you don't have any underlying condition causing you to be tired all the time, your body may not be working at its best timing because of the medication itself.
7. You might be allergic to some antidepressants
Antidepressants, like any other drug you take, can cause allergic reactions. Antidepressants are a type of medication used to treat depression and anxiety disorders. They work by increasing levels of mood-regulating neurotransmitters in the brain.
Antidepressant allergies are rare but do occur. Symptoms include skin rash, itching, and hives. These symptoms usually resolve quickly when you stop taking your antidepressant medication.
If you have an allergy to an antidepressant and experience any symptoms while taking it, contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor may recommend switching to a different type of antidepressant or adjusting the dose.
8. Antidepressants increase your Risk for bone fractures.
This is because antidepressants can cause a condition called osteoporosis, which means that your bones become more fragile and susceptible to fractures. Osteoporosis is caused by low levels of estrogen and testosterone, so it's possible that the medications used to treat depression could be linked to osteoporosis.
Studies have shown that patients with depression who take antidepressants have an increased risk of osteoporosis-related hip fractures. The risk is even higher in older people taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). In addition, studies have also shown that using antidepressant medication is associated with an increased risk of bone fractures among individuals who have taken these drugs for four years or longer.
Don't let the conversation surrounding antidepressants end with a prescription. With so many negative effects and little in the way of help, we need to re-evaluate the way we approach mental health. From finding alternative treatments to rethinking our basic social norms, there are a lot of things that need to be done if we want access to effective psychiatric treatment for everyone who needs it.
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