Depression rates are very high in US. Antidepressant medications such as Prozac and Zoloft are routinely prescribed by the doctors or psychiatrists for treatment of moderate to severe depression. And it’s a fact that antidepresssants are the only solution to combat mood disorders. Anti depressants work by altering the chemical balance in your brain cells and if they work properly, they help to relieve the symptoms, but side effects like jitteriness, weird dreams, dry mouth, diarrhea, decreased sexual desire etc. are quite common. Some of these side effects are temporary and they generally go away in a day or two but others tend to last longer. Hence alternate therapies like talk therapy, working out or exercising etc are gaining popularity over antidepressant medicines.
Side effects do not occur in everyone in every form or way. And one certain antidepressant is unlikely to cause the same side effects in everyone. Things like genetic makeup and or your current health conditions, may alter your responses to an antidepressant.
Here is a list of common side effects of antidepressants:
Nausea and vomiting is a very common side effect documented in 90 percent of patients prescribed with antidepressants. It generally starts happening from within a 4-7 days of taking the antidepressant. It may automatically relieve after 2-3 weeks, or when your body gets used to the medication.
2. Increased appetite and weight gain
Some people suffer from loss of appetite while others may have increased appetite and hence gain weight. The weight gain may also happen because of fluid retention in the body or due to lack of physical activity. This side effect varies with different antidepressants.
3. Sexual problems: loss of sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, decreased orgasm
Most antidepressants are most likely cause sexual problems which can last throughout the treatment. This is one of the most common but less talked about side effects. Antidepressants may decrease a patient’s sexual desire and/or decrease his or her abilities to orgasm. Sometimes the decreased sex drive is the reason behind the decreased orgasm. Some antidepressants may also cause erectile dysfunction in men.
4. Insomnia, agitation, restlessness and anxiety
Some antidepressants are likely to be energizing, which in turn may cause insomnia or sleeplessness. The stimulating effects of these antidepressants are likely to cause insomnia, agitation, restlessness and anxiety – all of them in the same person. An energy boost sounds appealing to a lot of people but it can also make it difficult for you to get sleep, which in turn will make you feel tired throughout the day. These antidepressants are better off taken in the morning or at the beginning of your day. Patients suffering from these symptoms have also been documented of being carried away with impulsive thoughts and excess energy. The patient must consult the physician with haste as these may also be signs of bipolar disorder.
5. Fatigue and drowsiness
Fatigue and drowsiness are common side effects during initial weeks of starting the treatment. Sometimes a few energizing antidepressants are given to people who are suffering from sleepiness or fatigue. This side effect may sometime act as a balance maker for people suffer from anxiety and sleeplessness or insomnia.
6. Dry mouth
Dry mouth is another common side effect. This may occur at the initial stage of the treatment or in some people it may continue throughout the treatment. This can be dealt with by brushing your teeth and using mouthwash, drinking lots of water, taking a sip of water frequently etc.
7. Blurred vision
Blurred vision generally occurs in the initial stage or the first few weeks but it goes away by itself within 2-3 weeks of the treatment. A few antidepressants may cause long term blurred vision, in that case the patient requires to consult the doctor.
The tricyclic acids(TCA) in the depression medicines disrupt the normal functions of the digestive tract, leading to constipation and other problems in bowel movement. This can be coped with by drinking plenty water, eating foods with fiber etc.
Dizziness is a common side effect in older people, it’s likely to happen with tricyclic(TCA) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) antidepressants. These chemicals cause low blood pressure, which causes dizziness.
10. Suicidal tendencies
This should not considered as a mere ‘side effects’. The FDA have warned people about the suicidal tendencies caused by antidepressants. Antidepressant manufacturers are now bound by the law to post this warning on their package inserts. The package inserts note that children, young adults or adolescents with depression or any other psychiatric disorder may be at increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior if using antidepressants, especially during the initial 3-4 weeks of the treatment. They need to be under adult supervision always.
It’s necessary for your safety that you keep a track of the side effects and discuss them with your physician in order to safely manage antidepressant medicines and suffer the least side effects.
Do not decide to stop taking the antidepressant on your own or abruptly. Prior discussion with a physician is a must. Abruptly stopping of the intake is likely to cause severe withdrawal symptoms.