Understanding Medication Treatment Of Depression

Major depression, the most common form of depression, affects 6.6 percent of adults in America according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Treatment for depression often begins in depression treatment centers and may include medication, psychotherapy and counseling. However, those with depression need to understand a few things about medications before, during and after inpatient depression treatment.

Reuptake Inhibitors

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs) influence the rate of reabsorption of chemical neurotransmitters between brain cells. According to Mayo Clinic, these classes of medications usually cause fewer side effects than traditional depression medications.

Tricyclic Antidepressants

Tricyclic antidepressants are one of the oldest classes of medications used for outpatient and inpatient depression treatment. Unfortunately, tricyclics may cause severe side effects, such as dizziness, excessive drowsiness, dry mouth and weight gain. Furthermore, tricyclics can cause a fatal overdose (National Institute of Mental Health). Because those with major depression may have suicidal thoughts or actions, safety while taking tricyclics is a major concern of mental health professionals.

Atypical Antidepressants

When depression does not respond to any other type of depression treatment, atypical antidepressants may be used. These medications have sedative properties and should always be taken with food. Some of the most common atypical antidepressants include vortioxetine and vilazodone. Additionally, vilazodone may be used, as it does not cause sexual side effects, such as impotence.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors

When depression does not respond to other depression treatment medications, including atypical antidepressants, depression treatment centers’ mental health professionals may prescribe monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Unfortunately, MAOI treatment requires adherence to strict dietary guidelines. For example, someone who takes MAOIs cannot consume cheese, pickles or wine.

Furthermore, MAOIs may interact with many common over-the-counter medications, such as birth control, decongestants, antihistamines and herbal supplements. MAOIS must not be taken in conjunction with SSRIs. Taking SSRIs with MAOIs can result in serotonin syndrome, which causes hallucinations, seizures, muscle stiffness, excessive perspiration and even cardiac events.

Other Medications

Sometimes, none of the aforementioned medications provide effective depression treatment, or antidepressant medications may not completely treat the depression. In these cases, antidepressant treatment of depression may include the use of mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, stimulants and anti-anxiety medications. However, these additional medications are often used for short-term benefit until the full effect of antidepressant treatment is achieved.

A Key Consideration for Antidepressant Medications

Suddenly stopping antidepressant therapy can be dangerous. The FDA requires all antidepressant medications to have a “black box” warning label. Failure to adhere to antidepressant medication recommendations may result in a serious risk for increased suicidal thoughts or actions in teens and up to 24-year-old adults. However, this increased risk may occur in anyone who suddenly stops taking antidepressants.

Medication treatment for depression can sound and look like “alphabet soup.” Fortunately, those with depression can take a proactive approach to depression treatment by understanding the different types of antidepressant medications and how they impact the body and mind.