Antidepressants are often prescribed for individuals suffering from depression or anxiety. If the condition is severe, the medication is more than helpful; it can save a person’s life. However if the depression is mild or moderate other treatment methods could be just as efficient, without exposing the patient to the risks of side effects.
How antidepressants works
Depression is believed to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Low levels of serotonin can lead to depression and antidepressant medication works by bringing serotonin level back to normal. In reality scientist do not know what a normal level of serotonin would be. Besides that prescription drugs increase the serotonin level within a couple of hours, but it takes weeks to see improvement in the symptoms. Even if a patient is feeling better after a period of treatment, it is important to know that the medication can only relieve some of the symptoms, while the underlying problem is still not solved.
Antidepressants are rarely a long term solution. There are other treatment possibilities, like therapy, exercise or self-help strategies which could work just as well or even better. They can help patients get to the bottom of their problem and solve depression once and for all.
Antidepressant risk factors
All patients taking antidepressants might experience unpleasant side effects. However some groups are exposed to higher risks. Children, adolescents and young adults should avoid taking antidepressants, because they might experience worsening of the signs of depression, including suicidal thoughts and behavior. People over 65 should also find additional treatment solutions to their depression, as antidepressants can increase the risks of falls and fractures.
Pregnant women are exposed to the greatest risks. Recent studies have revealed that the use of antidepressants during pregnancy increases the risks of miscarriage. Besides that babies can suffer severe birth defects, including heart and lung, brain and spinal cord, abdominal wall and limb defects.