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What are the Pros and Cons of Antidepressant Therapy?

Anna T.
Updated Feb 15, 2024
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The pros and cons of antidepressant therapy tend to vary depending on the type of antidepressants taken. There are three main types of antidepressant medications: tricyclics, seratonin reputake inhibitors, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. In general, the primary advantage of most types of antidepressant therapy is a significant boost in mood and overall outlook on life. For many people, antidepressants work very well to end feelings of depression. The cons of antidepressants are almost always related to the side effects of each specific drug and the fact that, for some people, antidepressants do not work for eliminating depression.

Tricyclic antidepressants were some of the first to be released, and they tend to be very helpful for treating and preventing depression. The side effects of tricyclics may be unpleasant, and because these were some of the first antidepressants developed, the side effects are also more likely to occur because the chemicals released by tricyclics to get rid of feelings of depression are not selective and block some other important receptor sites in the brain. People who take tricyclics often report severe dry mouth along with weight gain and feelings of anxiety. Tricyclics might also cause heart palpitations, blurred vision, and some problems with sexual performance in both men and women.

Seratonin reputake inhibitors, which are also frequently referred to as SSRIs, became more popular than tricyclics when they were released because, unlike tricyclics, the chemicals contained in SSRIs are selective, and many of the side effects associated with the non-selectivity of tricyclic antidepressants are easily avoided. SSRIs are available under many different brand names and tend to work well for mood elevation in most people. The disadvantages of SSRIs are usually related to the side effects, some of which include insomnia, headaches, and tremors. There are also people who report that SSRIs take away happy feelings along with sad feelings, making them feel emotionless in general. Just like all types of antidepressant therapy, SSRIs might occasionally be ineffective for boosting mood.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, also known as MOIs, are antidepressant therapy drugs that work to elevate the mood by increasing adrenaline and dopamine levels. Dopamine is a chemical the brain produces naturally that strongly impacts the body's pleasure center. MOIs aren't typically prescribed as often for depression as SSRIs are, but they can be incredibly helpful for boosting the mood. Unlike many other types of antidepressants, MOIs have a potentially dangerous side effect of increasing blood pressure. People who are on MOIs are likely to experience high blood pressure if they take any decongestant or antihistamine drugs or consume certain types of aged cheeses or wine, particularly red wine.

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Anna T.
By Anna T.
Anna Thurman is a skilled writer who lends her talents to WiseGeek. Her ability to research and present information in an engaging and accessible manner allows her to create content that resonates with readers across a wide range of subjects.
Discussion Comments
By discographer — On May 10, 2014

@candyquilt-- I'm sorry to hear that. I've read many such stories online, about the various side effects that people have had while on antidepressants. The most scary side effect is probably the increased risk for suicide because some of these medications can increase suicidal thoughts. I've also heard that antidepressants can cause thyroid problems but I'm not sure if there is any truth to this.

The main side effect I'm experiencing on antidepressant therapy right now is weight gain. I also feel sleepy a lot. Aside from these though, I feel very happy and I am starting to enjoy life again.

One thing I have understood about antidepressant therapy is that it's never the same for everyone. Everyone reacts to medications differently so each individual must consider the pros and cons for themselves.

By candyquilt — On May 09, 2014

I used antidepressant therapy in the past as well and I hope that I will never have to use it again. I was like a zombie, I felt nothing whatsoever. I don't think I ever cried during the time I was on the therapy. I had no libido and I had an awful time getting off of the medication. I experienced so many withdrawal symptoms. It was one of the worst experiences I've had.

By stoneMason — On May 09, 2014

I used a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor for two years. The medication was very helpful and helped me get out of depression. It also helped with my anxiety.

Of course there are downsides to antidepressant therapy. All medications have side effects. It's not realistic to think that there is a perfect medication out there. It's all about whether the advantages outweigh the risks and they certainly did in my case.

We all go through tough times and it can be very difficult to get out of depression without the help of medications. I don't think that medications should be the only treatment for depression. Medications should be supported with talk therapy, regular exercise in nature, a healthy diet and beneficial hobbies. But this does not mean that antidepressant medications are bad and should always be avoided.

Anna T.
Anna T.
Anna Thurman is a skilled writer who lends her talents to WiseGeek. Her ability to research and present information in an engaging and accessible manner allows her to create content that resonates with readers across a wide range of subjects.
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