If you’re currently dealing with depression, then you already know what a challenge it can be to live with. It can be even more difficult to treat. While dietary changes, exercise, and talk therapy can all help a great deal with depression, most people also find that taking an anti-depressant of one kind or another can be useful.
However, getting together with your doctor and deciding that anti-depressants might be a good option for you and actually settling on the right option are two different animals altogether. Let’s take a closer look at some of today’s most widely trusted option and examine what each brings to the table.
Prozac is such a commonly used and widely recognized name in depression treatment that it’s often the first option people think of when asked to name an anti-depressant. Also known as Fluoxitine, Prozac is also used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder, alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety issues, and even some eating disorders.
Prozac is normally taken once daily either every day or possibly alternatively on certain days of the month according to doctor’s orders. It should always be taken at the same time each day and doctor’s directions should always be followed. It can take around 4-5 weeks to start feeling the effects of the medication. Some side effects include dry mouth, drowsiness, nausea, and changes to the sex drive.
Like many anti-depressants, there are varying opinions in regards to how safe Prozac is for pregnant women to use. For instance, Dr. Alice Domar of Harvard Medical School says: “I don’t think many people are aware of the risks to pregnancy and I’m not sure why this hasn’t gotten more attention. I think there’s this myth that it’s better for pregnant women to be on SSRIs than to be depressed and the problem is there’s no data to support that.”
Zoloft – also known as Sertraline – is used to treat a variety of different chemical imbalance disorders and mental illnesses. These include but are not limited to depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It belongs to the family of drugs known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).
Zoloft is normally prescribed in either a tablet for or a liquid form. It can take many patients and their doctors several tries before the correct dosage for the individual is hit upon, so some fine tuning in regards to treatment may be necessary. Be sure your doctor knows about other drugs and supplements you are taking, as some interactions can occur. Side effects can include decreased interest in sex, skin rash, aggression, chest pain, bruising, or muscle aches.
In a recent 2009 study, Zoloft was found to be one of the most effective modern drugs for the treatment of depression along with Lexapro, Effexor, and Remeron. However, these findings were countered by another US study that claimed not to show a significant difference. Efficacy was defined as a 50% reduction rate in symptoms over a two month period. Regardless, Zoloft remains one of the most popular choices for depression treatment.
Also known as Paroxetine, Paxil is used to treat not only depression, but also social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Paxil is most commonly prescribed in the form of a long-acting tablet, but some doctors may prescribe it in a liquid form as well. It is growing in popularity as an option for depression treatment. A recent study showed that only 15% of Paxil patients experience recurrences of symptoms over a year.
It is normally recommended that you take Paxil in the mornings, preferably along with food. Avoid mixing Paxil with alcohol or any other prescription medications and supplements without your doctor’s OK. Side effects of Paxil use can include vivid dreams, anxiety, agitation, allergy-like reactions, weight loss, unusual bleeding, lightheadedness, sexual dysfunction, and thoughts of self harm or suicide. Be sure to speak with your doctor about side effects if you have them right away.
Wellbutrin is a commonly used brand name for the drug known as Buproprion. It’s best known use is as an antidepressant. However, it is often also used as an aid for quitting smoking. Some people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder will take it as a preventative measure certain times of the year. It is most commonly prescribed as a time release, long-acting tablet.
Most people who make Wellbutrin their antidepressant drug of choice will need to consistently take the medication via doctor’s orders for around 4 weeks before they really start feeling the effects of treatment. If you are taking Zyban (the form of Wellbutrin given to smokers trying to quit), your doctor may have you start taking the med up to 2 weeks before you’re scheduled to begin the quitting process. Side effects of this medication can include lightheadedness, headache, restlessness, changes in sex drive, changes in urination, chest pain, or seizures.
Effexor – also known as Venlafaxine – is part of the drug family known as SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. In addition to being applied to depressions treatment, it is also sometimes used to treat social anxiety, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Effexor, however, is not generally prescribed or recommended to people merely in need of an antidepressant in order to cope with everyday life.
Effexor is usually prescribed as a tablet or capsule. It should be swallowed whole, as opposed to crushed or broken, and it should be taken with food whenever possible. Alcohol use should be avoided if you are on Effexor, as should any other medications or supplements until you speak with your doctor about possible drug interactions. Side effects can include confusion, nervousness, trouble breathing, unexplained fever, tiredness, weakness, seizure, and uneven heartbeat.
Some statistics show an increase in blood pressure for some patients to the tune of about a 0.5% increase in 3% of patients, so caution should be exercised in patients with blood pressure issues. Effexor is also not approved for use in patients who are at risk for bipolar disorder. However, it is considered by experts to be among the most effective drugs for treating depression.
Celexa is the most commonly known brand name of the antidepressant drug Citalopram. It is a member of the drug family known as SSRI (serotonin reuptake inhibitor). As is the case with other SSRIs, Celexa works by helping to increase the brain’s working levels of serotonin. It is most often prescribed in tablet or liquid form and should be taken via doctor’s orders. It is often left up to the patient as to whether or not to take Celexa with food.
As is the case with many forms of antidepressant, it’s important to speak with your doctor about any other meds you may be taking, including over the counter supplements. You should not consume alcohol if you’re on this medication. You should also not take Celexa if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a reason to think you might be soon. Common side effects include thirstiness, numbness in the extremities, shortness of breath, aggression, personality changes, lightheadedness, skin rash, changes in urination, and possible changes to the sex drive.
Ultimately, the addition of an antidepressant to your routine should have a minimal effect on the way you feel overall. It may also take some time for you and your doctor to hit on the right dosage for you. However, with a little fine-tuning, it’s more than possible to reach a place where you’re living a full, productive life again with the help of the right course of treatment.