Depression is a serious and dangerous problem that affects millions of people every year. In fact, it is stated that one in every three people will suffer from depression at some point in their lives. That is well over half of everyone.
It is important to understand the difference between clinical depression and ordinary depression. Clinical depression is an unexplained state of sadness and weakness lasting longer than two weeks without any improvement or change for the better.
On the other hand, there are certain circumstances in which one should be depressed such as the loss of a loved one. That kind of depression is known as situational and does not need to be treated with any medication.
Drugs for Clinical Depression
To date, the best medications for the treatment of clinical depression are the SSRI drugs or Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors. They work by temporarily increasing the active concentrations of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is believed to be low in clinical depression.
The original SSRI was Prozac or fluoxetine as it is known. After a time with that around, all sorts of different ones began to come out including Zoloft and Paxil. They all work in the same way, by increasing the available serotonin for neurons in the brain.
The Good Side of SSRI Drugs
Probably the best thing about the SSRI drugs is that they are highly effective and, in most cases, they completely alleviate the symptoms of depression. In many cases, people only need them for short periods of time up to three months and can be taken off without relapse.
They show other benefits too. These medications have also become the best long-term treatment option for anxiety and panic disorders, often working up to a year after starting the medication. Of course, gradual dosage increases may be needed to maintain the effect.
The Down Side of SSRI Drugs
Though they will alleviate depression for most people who they are prescribed for, the SSRI drugs do have many side effects. These include but are not limited to nausea, fatigue, poor concentration, decreased sex drive and anorgasmia (the inability to achieve an orgasm during sex), stomach upset, constipation, diarrhea, and decreased appetite.
Some people get headaches from them and even feel spaced out. The real problems set in when people have to come off of these medications. Often, the depression is even worse after coming off the drugs than it was before going on them, requiring new medication combinations to be prescribed.
Basically, these drugs are addictive, though not in the sense that they have abuse potential. The body becomes acclimated to them to such an extent that there is a rebound effect after coming off. Keep in mind that this does not happen to everyone but it is a major down side to SSRI drugs.
The Bright Side
On the brighter side, there are new combinations of drugs that are becoming effective for the treatment of depression and even some that are not SSRI drugs at all. New treatments will be available soon.