Antidepressants are mood-stabilizing drugs designed to help alleviate the symptoms of depression. But the symptomatic relief comes at an extremely high price-not just in terms of money, but in the toll they can take on the body and the side effects they create.
Types of antidepressants
There are four classes of antidepressants:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are designed to help the brain make better use of serotonin, which is believed to elevate or moderate mood. Types of SSRIs are:
- Paxil, Prozac, Celexa
- Serotonin-Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These work a lot like SSRIs, but they inhibit norephinephrine in addition to serotonin. Examples of SNRIs are:
- Effexor and Cymbalta
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). TCAs slow or prevent the re-uptake of serotonin and norepinephrine, which causes increased production of these ‘feel good’ brain chemicals. TCAs are not the same as SRNIs. Examples of TCAs are:
- Elavil, Tofranil and Pamelor
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). This was one of the original types of antidepressants that had to be taken with strict dietary intake. They were eventually replaced due to the severe side effects that came from taking them. Today, they are a last resort for patients unresponsive to SSRIs and TCAs. Examples of MAOIs are:
- Parnate, Nardil
There are also antidepressants that don’t fit these classifications. They are:
Known Side Effects
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), known side-effects of antidepressants are:
- Night sweats
- Sexual problems
- Dry mouth
- Suicidal thinking
- Mania (extreme high and low emotional states)
- Birth defects
- High blood pressure
Causes of Depression
As with many mental disorders, it is believed that a combination of factors cause Depression. Some people are more susceptible to developing the condition, while others are not. It can be an inherited condition, but most people with Depression have biochemical changes in the brain. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are responsible for regulating happiness or feelings of pleasure. If these are out of balance, then people may develop Depression. Common causes are:
Natural Healing For Depression
- Exercise can be a great natural remedy to help with Depression because it generates positive endorphins that contribute to what is known as “runner’s high.” You don’t have to exercise every day, but exericising for 30-45 minutes three times a week can be as effective as taking antidepressant medications.
- Meditation is a great way to help you relax and clear your mind, which can be difficult for someone battling Depression. By focusing on your breathing and emptying your mind, you can establish a mind/body connection that promotes positivity. Find a quiet retreat to meditate in every day. Start off with 10 minutes and work your way up to 45 minutes a day. If something comes into your mind while meditating, acknowledge it and let it go. If meditating in silence proves difficult, try a guided meditation.
- Similar to meditation, acupuncture can help promote better circulation and a mind/body connection. The needles can stimulate certain pressure points and release endorphins, which can make your body feel calm and relaxed.
- It can be beneficial to set goals, even minor ones, to help establish a schedule and make you feel better that you are accomplishing things. Simple goals such as washing the dishes, taking a walk, or taking out the trash can be a great way to start. Begin with smaller goals and graduate to things that seem harder.
- Support groups can be a positive source to help people with Depression. It allows people with Depression to relate to one another, while giving them a chance to learn from people with similar issues. Similarly, seeking therapy or counceling may help those with Depression. Talking about feelings can help the person overcome the condition and discover the root of the problem, so that the right steps can be taken to help combat Depression.
- Although it may not seem like it, eating a healthy diet comprised of plant-based foods can contribute to a healthier, more positive outlook on life. Processed foods, dairy products, refined sugars, or meat can have chemicals that inhibit the production of positive neurotransmitters. Certain foods can actually enhance serotonin levels, and promote a happier feeling overall.
- Get more food that has magnesium. Magnesium is a prominent mineral in the body and can help lower stress levels, contributing to a more relaxed, positive state. If you aren’t sure of what foods contain magnesium, always go for bananas, dark leafy greens, avocados, or nuts and seeds.
- Some people with Depression can have a difficult time sleeping, and too little sleep can worsen the condition. You can help yourself by going to bed at the same time every day. Additionally, take distractions out of your bathroom like the TV and try not to nap during the day. In time, your sleep should hopefully return to normal.