With so many pre-existing notions about antidepressants, it’s easy to see why people feel confused about their effectiveness and safety. Due to their relative newness to the medical scene but steady rise in usage among Americans, much research is still needed in determining the benefits and ramifications of this medication trend. Fortunately, however, the level of information we currently have on common antidepressant medications gives a general overview of what to expect in terms of efficacy, side effects and potential dangers.
Quick Facts about Depression and Antidepressant Medication
Here are some statistics you should know:
- Almost 15 million American adults are affected by major depressive disorder each year.
- The median age of onset for depression is 32.
- One in 10 Americans takes antidepressants.
- One in eight adolescents suffers from clinical depression.
- Antidepressant use doesn’t vary by income
- Women are 2½ times more likely to take antidepressants than men.
- People diagnosed with depression are four times more likely to suffer a heart attack than those with no depressive history.
Arguments in Favor of Antidepressant Usage
Proponents of antidepressant usage look to several positive facts about the medication.
- Research studies have shown that combining antidepressants with cognitive therapy yields optimal success rates among adolescents, thus lending support to its merits.
- Several proponents note that many varieties of antidepressants offer quick results, although it’s typical for a depressed individual to try several types of antidepressants before finding the best fit for their needs.
- Antidepressants have been medically proven to improve patients’ overall quality of life, enabling them to enjoy improved moods and decreased physical ailments associated with depression, such as pain and fatigue.
- Antidepressant medication is also proven to balance the brain’s neurochemistry when taken as prescribed.
Arguments Against Antidepressant Administration
Several opponents of antidepressant prescriptions cite negative side effects and worrisome scientific findings about these medications.
- Side effects are often the most troubling aspect of antidepressants. These include weight gain, fatigue, nausea, insomnia and decreased sex drive.
- Researchers have noted an increase in suicidal thoughts among patients who take antidepressants, leading to an increased risk of not only suicide but also violent behavior and aggression.
- Many opponents feel that natural, homeopathic remedies coupled with therapy are more effective and less dangerous than antidepressant medications, which they feel are handed out too quickly before trying alternative measures.
- Numerous birth defects have been attributed to antidepressant usage among pregnant women, including cleft palate, heart anomalies and
There is still much research needed to fully understand the prolonged effects of antidepressant use, but current studies lend both support and distrust to this popular treatment measure for major depressive disorder. In-depth discussions with your physician on the various types of antidepressants — as well as side effects and pros and cons of each — are recommended to determine the treatment method that’s best for you.
Photo: Divine Harvester