Depression is the number one mental disorder in the western world with an ever increasing number of patients. Luckily there are many different types of depression medication and other treatments for depression available nowadays that are effective and allow for an alleviation or even cure of depression. Among the treatments for depression prescription anti depressants are by far the ones most commonly used. Given a broad lack of knowledge among many depressed patients about what these drugs actually do and what to expect when one takes them a review of those types of depression medication is well warranted. In principle one can distinguish four types of depression medication, though a few medicinal prescription treatments for depression do not directly fall into one of the four categories: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Tricyclics Antidepressants (TCAs), Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), and Serotonin/Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
All of those types of depression medication have many commonalities with regards to their mode of action. They all work by increasing the level of neurotransmitters in the brain. MAOIs do this by inhibiting the enzymatic breakdown of neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine trough monoamine oxidase; TCAs prevent the uptake of various neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine; and SSRIs and SNRIs, as their name implies, selectively prevent the reuptake of specific neurotransmitters. Also, all mentioned treatments for depression may have serious side effects, although these side effects vary depending on the kind of anti depressant used. Furthermore, all types of depression medication start to have a positive effect on the depressed patient only after a treatment period of several days to weeks. They also need to be taken consistently over months and sometimes years before drug levels may be reduced or the drugs may not be needed any more by the patient. While the effect of anti depressants on neurotransmitter levels is well documented, how they actually work to lower depression is not definitely known. Some theories claim that the excessive levels of neurotransmitters induced by anti depressants over time lead to a down-regulation of neurotransmitter-receptors, which has a positive effect. Others believe that anti depressants also have positive longer term effects such as neurogenesis or altered gene expression patterns. Whatever the exact causes of the anti depressive effect of these types of depression treatment, they obviously work in many, though certainly not all, cases of depression as has been demonstrated in various clinical studies. Consequently, together with psychotherapy, anti depressants are the treatments for depression of choice for most medical professionals. Unfortunately all named types of depression medication are also known to produce tolerance, leading to the need to increase dosage or to switch to another depression treatment. In addition withdrawal effects are often seen when the patient is taken off medication, leading to a long-term dependence on the drugs used.
All in all the classic types of depression medication certainly have their merits. On the other hand due to the possibility of side effects, the induction of tolerance and the potential danger of establishing dependency on the drugs these treatments of depression should not be taken lightly and in no case without guidance and supervision from a medical professional. Also, the depressed patient should generally work on bettering her condition besides through taking drugs. A healthy nutrition, potentially including nutritional supplements, sports and outdoor activities as well as mental training, such as meditation are all supportive treatments for depression that should be applied to help the depressed patient fight against depression.
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