When an individual works with a health provider to begin using antidepressants, it may take a while before finding a good fit. There are many antidepressant medications, and everyone responds to them differently, just as depression may appear differently for each person.
Depression is often a complex interaction of physical factors and environmental factors. A health care professional can help to understand these interactions.
Many people do not respond to their first antidepressant or they may experience undesirable side effects. It is important for a person to set realistic expectations and patiently work with their health provider.
Are There Many Different Kinds of Depression?
There are many different types of depression, whether due to chemical changes in the brain or tragic events in life such as the loss of a loved one. A health provider will assess a client to understand what type of depression is present. This will guide the journey of finding the right antidepressant for each individual.
People who suffer from major depression tend to experience loss of interest in daily activities, prolonged sadness, lack of energy, feeling worthless, despair, hopelessness, or even having suicidal thoughts. If these symptoms are preceded by certain life-changing, traumatic events, they are likely due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sometimes depression may occur in people with bipolar disorder. Individuals with this disorder tend to display extremes of energy with fluctuating moods. In the low mood phase, they have similar symptoms of major depression.
Another type of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may share similar symptoms but is largely due to a lack of exposure to sunlight. Certain symptoms of depression are more gender-specific. For example, women may experience peripartum or postpartum depression. Women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) may also experience similar fatigue, mood swings, and anxiety, similar to people experiencing major depression.
What Are Some Common Antidepressants and Their Usage?
Antidepressants are a broad category of medications developed to address various types of depression. For example, the FDA has approved three medicines to treat depression among people with bipolar disorders: Seroquel, Latuda, and an olanzapine-fluoxetine combination. Mood stabilizers, such as lithium, also may help. Doctors usually do not prescribe traditional antidepressants for bipolar depression.
Women with PMDD are often first prescribed fluoxetine (Prozac) for a few weeks. If there is no improvement or the presence of undesirable side effects, health providers’ second choices often include sertraline (Zoloft) or escitalopram (Lexapro). These medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that carries signals between nerve cells in the brain. SSRIs block the reabsorption of serotonin into neurons, making more serotonin available to improve the transmission of messages between nerve cells.
Some antidepressants have dual purposes. A health provider must know a client’s full medical history to find a good match. This history includes other medications taken (including vitamins, supplements, and prescriptions), because some antidepressants may interact with other medications.
What Are Some Complementary Treatment Methods?
Apart from medications, there is a wide range of therapies to treat depressive symptoms. These include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). They are designed to stimulate and monitor certain areas of brain activity to improve mood.
Evidence-based treatment methods, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and other types of psychotherapy, can have equivalent effects in mild to moderate cases of depression. It is often desired to offer these psychological treatments first. However, antidepressant drugs can be used simultaneously with these treatments.
What Is the Importance of Lifestyle Modification?
In most cases, depression is associated with risk factors in an unhealthy lifestyle. These include poor sleep patterns, unhealthy diet, substance use, lack of exercise, or smoking. Lifestyle changes are often needed to make recovery from depression more sustainable, even with the use of antidepressants and other treatments.
For example, education may be beneficial to understand the harm associated with overconsuming processed food. Having a good sleep routine and sleep hygiene is a basic part of healthy living because sleep detox can renew and replenish the brain and the nervous system. People who are taking antidepressants should strictly refrain from using drugs and alcohol because there can be severe interactions with these medications. Substance use can also bring a range of co-occurring mental health issues that worsen depression symptoms.
Lastly, exercises and healthy hobbies make up a big part of a healthy lifestyle. Regularly participating in these healthy activities helps to maintain a positive outlook on life.
If you are starting antidepressant use, be aware that it may take a while before you find a good fit. This is because there are many antidepressant medications, and everyone responds to them differently, just as depression may show up differently for each person. Many people do not respond to their first antidepressant or experience undesirable side effects. It is important to set realistic expectations and patiently work with your health provider. At Casa Recovery, we have a team of experienced health professionals who can help diagnose different types of depression and discover which antidepressants are best for your condition. They also use a wide range of complementary methods. Our expertise has helped many individuals recover from different kinds of depressive disorders. Our strong recovery community can best support your recovery from other co-occurring mental health conditions. Early intervention is key. Do not delay. Call today Casa Recovery at (888) 928-2272.