A tough day at work, loss of money in the stock market or an injured self-esteem often leaves a person in the doldrums. This feeling normally lasts a day or two after which the person is back to his normal self. At times this feeling persists for a much longer period and turns severe, preventing the person from leading a normal life. This condition is called major depressive disorder; it can cause untold suffering to a person and may even push him to commit suicide. Sadly, most people leave this condition undiagnosed and untreated, which may cost the sufferer his life.
Signs of depression include feeling sad, lack of energy, aches and pains, insomnia or excessive sleep, loss of appetite and feeling of despair. There are various types of depression like major depression, chronic depression (dysthymia), seasonal depression, psychotic depression and bipolar depression.
Antidepressants are used in the treatment of depression. These drugs increase the presence of certain brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters bring about a change in the emotions of the person and leave him in good spirits.
Antidepressants are broadly classified as Tricyclic antidepressants, Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. The medication differs from person to person, depending upon the extent to which he has been affected.
Trycyclic antidepressants influence the level of neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. These drugs generally have a lot of side effects and are not preferred as a first choice. Drugs that fall under this catogory are Anafranil, Adapin, Pamelor, Norpramin, Tofranil and Vivactil.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are effective in people who are suffering from other mental ailments and who do not respond to other drug treatments.Those who consume MAOIs must follow a strict diet, since as substances like alcohol can interfere with the functioning of the MAOIs.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) also slimulate the production of the neurotransmitters. They are relatively new drugs and have potential side effects like headache, palpitations, chest pain, neck stiffness, nausea and vomiting. They can also cause mania in some people, and people who are prescribed them should be watched carefully for adverse reactions. Some examples of SSRIs include Paxil, Prozac, Luvox and Zoloft; Effexor, Remeroin and Cymbalta are SNRIs.
Treating depression using drugs is not the preferred choice because all these drugs have damaging side effects. Some of the side effects may sometimes turn out to be more harmful than the disorder they are supposed to cure. A better option would be psychotherapy, which will help the person to come out of the depression by regaining control over his mind.