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How do antidepressants work

Are you afraid to go to a psychiatrist because you might have to take antidepressants? Learn how these pills work so you can make an informed decision.

Antidepressants help treat people who suffer from depression, anxiety or bouts of panic disorders. However, it is important that you know how these medications work to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

How the brain works

Our brain controls our moods and emotions. The exchange of chemical messages through the network of brain cells or neurones makes us behave and react the way we do in response to an external stimuli or events that happen around us. Here are a few things you can do to boost brain power.

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Serotonin and norepinephrine are two neurotransmitters that are mostly responsible for controlling our moods and actions. A dip in the levels of these neurotransmitters makes one feel gloomy, demotivated and lonely, setting the stage for depression, anxiety and mood disorders. Here are the subtle signs of depression that you need to know.

Types of antidepressants

SSRI or serotonin selective reuptake inhibitor

These are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants that are considered safe with fewer side-effects. They are used to treat moderate to severe depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks and personality disorders. These antidepressants help to maintain serotonin levels in the brain, the neurotransmitter associated with feeling of well being and happiness. It helps one cope with mood swings and feelings of hopelessness, sadness and lack of interest in life. The brain cells typically recycle this neurotransmitter throughout the different regions of the brain. However, for people suffering from depression, this neurotransmitter gets absorbed by the neurons creating a dip in the levels. SSRIs inhibit this reuptake and also help establishing neural connectivity in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that controls moods and emotions. Know the difference between stress and depression to get the right help.

SNRI or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor

Like SSRIs, they also work on maintaining the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine by inhibiting their absorption through the nerve cells. They are also termed as dual-action antidepressants and help to uplift your mood. Apart from working on serotonin and norepinephrine, they also maintain the level of other neurotransmitters to help alleviate the symptoms of depression and mood disorders. However, the analysis is often done by a psychiatrist before prescribing the medication. Here are all your questions on antidepressants answered.

NDRI or norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors

Not everyone suffering from depression will have a dip in serotonin levels. There are other neurotransmitters that can affect mood and well-being severely norepinephrine and dopamine. Norepinephrine regulates alertness, concentration and motivation dopamine regulates feelings of pleasure and lifts spirits. NDRIs, unlike selective serotonin, inhibit the absorption of norepinephrine and dopamine. Here are eight ways to prevent depression that you must try.

SARI or serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitors

These antidepressants work only on improving serotonin levels without interfering with other neurotransmitters or norepinephrine.

Tetracyclic or tricyclic antidepressants

These antidepressants increase levels of norepinephrine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters and block the action of acetylcholine, another neurotransmitter thereby improving one s mood and feeling of general well-being. However, they also block the action of histamine another neurotransmitter that gives rise to inflammatory effects in the body. Here are eight modern day signs of depression that you should be watchful off.

MAOI or monoamine oxidase inhibitors

Depression or mood disorders don t happen only when neurotransmitters get absorbed by the brain cells; sometimes this happens if the neurotransmitters breakdown. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors work to inhibit the enzyme monoamine oxidase that breaks down serotonin, epinephrine and dopamine giving rise to depression and other mood disorders.

Word of caution

None of these antidepressants should be taken over the counter or without consulting a psychiatrist. All of these antidepressants mentioned above have their side-effects, and the doses need to be monitored before consumption. Usually, a small dose of the medication is prescribed at first to see if the patient suffers from any side effects and gradually the doses are increased. So refrain from self-medication.

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