Using antidepressants is becoming more common, but do you know much about them? Check out these 10 weird facts about antidepressants that will surprise you.
People are working longer hours, have less time with family, and are constantly battling stressful situations. In addition, being constantly inundated with the news through social media can make anyone depressed.
There’s not enough time for daily yoga and meditation. As a result, many of us are turning to antidepressants to get us through these stressful times.
But antidepressants come at a cost, and it’s important to know all the facts. Some of these facts aren’t common knowledge, and often your doctor won’t even discuss them before prescribing antidepressants.
Here are 10 weird facts about antidepressants that will surprise you.
1. We Don’t Know How Antidepressants Work :
Antidepressants have been around for a long time, and yet, we still don’t know exactly how they work.
And since everybody’s depression is different, we don’t know how well they work for varying degrees of depression or if they sufficiently treat depression at al. In fact, we don’t even know if they’re safe for long-term use.
13% of Americans take antidepressants, some for other illnesses like anxiety and fibromyalgia.
Yet studies — mostly paid for by pharmaceutical companies — include only a few thousand people.
Many of us have been told that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, but we don’t really know if that’s true either. What most studies look at is our brain’s level of serotonin. However, neither lowering or increasing the level of serotonin in the brain reduce the symptoms of depression.
If low levels of serotonin were the cause of depression, then antidepressants wouldn’t take several weeks to work. They would work immediately, or at least within a few days, once the levels of serotonin increase. But they don’t.
Another interesting fact about antidepressants is that some don’t even increase serotonin and still work as well as any other antidepressant.
2. All Antidepressants Are Equally Effective :
It’s a known fact about antidepressants that pharmaceutical companies spend a lot of money pushing one pill over another.
Doctors aren’t pharmacists and tend to push whatever antidepressants they’re most familiar with. At times, they’re buddies with the pharmaceutical sales rep.
A fact about antidepressants is that there’s no evidence that one antidepressant is more effective at treating depression than another.
What a person needs to weigh is the cost and side effects, which can vary greatly from one person to another. There are over 30 different kinds of antidepressants available.
They all work on different parts of the brain, inhibiting or increasing receptors of certain hormones. They have different side effects, and they all are equally effective. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t.
3. They Don’t Work Immediately :
All antidepressants take several weeks before they’re fully effective. It can take anywhere from two weeks to a month before you know if it’s the right antidepressant for you.
One unfortunate fact about antidepressants is that many people have to cycle through several kinds of antidepressants, suffering from a variety of side effects before they find the right one.
That’s a long time for trial and error.
And eventually, the effectiveness wears off over time. Many people build up a tolerance, and signs of depression return.
Then you need to try a different antidepressant, and the trial and error process begins again. This could make anyone depressed.
4. Dosage Makes No Difference Either :
Many doctors start their patients off with a low dose and then gradually increase over time. There’s no evidence that this is necessary or that higher dosages are more effective.
Since this is the case, you’re better off taking a low dose and having less negative side effects. It’s a myth that a person will get better quicker if they are on a higher dosage of an antidepressant.
5. Antidepressants Can Help Your Sex Life :
It is pretty well-documented fact about antidepressants that one side effect is a lowered sex drive. That said, depression itself can lower your sex drive too.
Interestingly, this low-libido side effect can have its benefits by helping men with premature ejaculation. Antidepressants can delay ejaculation, and for men who suffer from premature ejaculation, the delay can be a big help.
One study found that men who took an SSRI a couple of hours before intercourse had longer ejaculation times compared to the placebo group.
6. Animals Get Depressed Too :
Americans spend an estimated $15 million a year on medication for their depressed cats and dogs.
Depression symptoms for animals aren’t too different than those for people, so it’s fairly easy to detect. However, it’s difficult to treat animals with therapy. Instead, some veterinarians are treating pets with antidepressants.
Zoo animals are on antidepressants too. They are being used to treat everything from aggression to obsessive-compulsive disorder.
7. You’ll Feel Worse at First :
Not only do antidepressants take a while to kick in, but your symptoms may be exacerbated.
It’s not uncommon for you to feel more tired, less hungry, less ambitious and sadder. Things will get better. It just takes a while.
In addition, the side effects don’t help either. This is why doctors usually start a person off with a low dose, to reduce the intensity of side effects, before they find the right medication and dose.
8. Antidepressants Can Be Harmful :
Antidepressants come with a long list of side effects, many of which mirror the symptoms of depression, lethargy, insomnia, nausea, anger, violence, and even suicidal thoughts.
The side effects can sometimes be more debilitating than the illness it’s treating. A person needs to seriously weigh the pros and cons.
Often a person can mistake a side effect of the medication as a symptom of depression. Since we don’t know how the drugs work, it’s hard to know.
Another fact about antidepressants is that once you start, it’s not safe to quit cold turkey. A person should wean off of them slowly, and many aren’t willing to do this. Quitting antidepressants quickly can be dangerous.
9. You Can Overdose on Antidepressants :
Too much of a good thing can be too much. As mentioned, more isn’t always better, but often people are prescribed higher doses of antidepressants anyway.
You can overdose on antidepressants, and the symptoms of overdosing on them aren’t always obvious. Zoloft overdose symptoms can include lethargy and nausea, which may be confused with ordinary side effects.
Other, less obvious overdose symptoms include high blood pressure or inflammation of the pancreas, which can be mistaken for a cold or flu.
However, if a person seems agitated, confused or is vomiting, that’s not normal. If someone taking antidepressants has these symptoms or becomes incoherent or unresponsive, call a doctor immediately
A Zoloft overdose also can lead to a life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome.
Serotonin syndrome can occur when dangerously high levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin build up in the brain.
10. Antidepressants Can Interact with Other Drugs :
It’s very important to tell the doctor prescribing antidepressants if you’re taking other drugs. It’s also essential that you’re honest about your use of recreational drugs and alcohol. All of these can have harmful interactions with antidepressants.
Don’t ever share your medication with anyone, especially if you don’t know what other medications they might be taking or if they are using recreational drugs. Interactions can be deadly.
Facts About Antidepressants Revealed
Now that you know more about antidepressants, you can make a well-informed decision about taking them.
Depression is debilitating, and some people battle with the disease their whole lives. For some, antidepressants are a last resort, and for others, they’re hoping for a temporary solution that will give them an opportunity to have a better perspective.
No matter the reason, there is no shame in being depressed or needing treatment.
However, there are other methods of treating depression that can be used in conjunction with medication, such as therapy, exercise, diet, and natural remedies. Many of these have been proven to be equally effective.
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