Antidepressants are not "Happy Pills" nor are they the panacea for your depression for what is wrong with you.
Posted 16 September 2006 - 11:03 PM
A. Antidepressants are not "Happy Pills" nor are they the panacea for your depression.
There is no street-market for antidepressants; unlike "speed" which will improve the mood of almost everybody, antidepressants only improve the mood of depressed people. Also unlike the almost instant effects of speed, the mood-improving effects of antidepressants develop slowly over a number of weeks. "Speed" induces a highly artificial state, antidepressants cause the brain to slowly increase its production of naturally occurring neurotransmitters.
Q. "What percentage of depressed people will respond to antidepressants"?
A. Generally, about 2/3 of depressed people will respond to any given antidepressant. People who do not respond to the first antidepressant they have taken, have an excellent chance of responding to another.
Q. "What does it feel like to respond to an antidepressant? Will I feel euphoric if my depression responds to an antidepressant"?
A. The most common description of the effects of antidepressants is that of feeling the depression gradually lift, and for the person to feel normal again. People who have responded to antidepressants are not euphoric. They are not unfeeling automatons. The are still able to feel sad when bad things happen, and they are able to feel very happy in response to happy events. The sadness they feel with disappointments is not depression, but is the sadness anyone feels when disappointed or when having experienced a loss. Antidepressants do not bring about happiness, they just relieve depression. Happiness is not something that can be had from a pill.
In the United States, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications affect the levels of serotonin in the brain. For many people, these medications are the first choice to treat depression. Examples of these medications are fluoxetine (Prozac®, Sarafem®). Prozac ® (Fluoxetine), was the first marketed SSRI. Within a short time others were being marketed, (paroxetine), Paxil®, Paxil CR®), sertraline, Zoloft, fluvoxamine, Luvox®, also Lexapro®, (citalopram), (Celexa®), Cymbalta®, Duloxetine hydrochloride, Effexor®, (escitalopram), Wellbutrin XL, SR®, (bupropion).
They all basically do the same with the exception of Effexor® and Wellbutrin®, (which effect the levels of norepinephrine, and dopamine as well).
So for this discussion, we grouped them together.
These are the classes of antidepressants, all of which seem to work by increasing levels of certain neurotransmitters, (most commonly serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine) in the brain. It is not entirely clear why increasing neurotransmitter levels should reduce the severity of a depression.
One theory holds that the increased concentration of neurotransmitters causes changes in the brain's concentration of molecules, receptors, to which these transmitters bind. In some unknown way it is the changes in the receptors that are thought responsible for improvement.
Q. "What will Antidepressants do for me?"
A. The result is that for most people there will be a reduction of depressive symptoms.
No matter what their exact mode of action may be, it is clear that antidepressants will not make you instantly "happy."
Again, Let me say this one last time...These are not "happy pills". They do not make happy people happier! Nor, if nothing good is going on in one's life, will they change that either!
What they will do is allow people to respond positively to good events happening in their lives. They also help people tolerate their life situation. That is the up side. The down side is that these medications all have some minor side effects. These side effects range from nausea, drowsiness, irritability to decreased libido. In general the side effects are minor and the benefits are great. Side effects usually do not last long.
One final point: how long do you take them? At this point the field recommends taking medications for one year after the first onset of depression and for two years if a return of a depressive episode, after stopping your antidepressant.
*Information supplied on Depression Forums should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for medical advice from a health professional or doctor.
Depressionforums always recommends consulting with your physician before stoping or starting any medication.
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