Mental Check In
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Antidepressants and Depression: The Basics

After seeking treatment for depression, it’s likely that your doctor prescribed you an antidepressant as part of your treatment plan.

Not everyone takes them, but these medications can help improve your mood, increase your appetite, help your concentration, and help you sleep better. They can help get you back on the right track towards feeling like yourself again.

But have you ever wondered how they work, and how they can affect your life? Let’s take a closer look.

How Antidepressants Work for Depression

Have you ever wondered just how those antidepressants actually work?

Generally, antidepressants work by balancing chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters that affect mood and emotions. Not all antidepressants target the same neurotransmitters, though. The most common target serotonin, but others may target dopamine or norepinephrine.

Truth be told, we don’t actually know the exact causes of depression, so we don’t know exactly how antidepressants improve the symptoms. Researchers believe the benefit lies in the way antidepressants affect certain brain circuits and the neurotransmitters.

Even still, it’s clear that these medications do provide relief for many people. And that relief can give you the boost you need to clear the fog.

It’s like finally being able to see clearly again — and that’s exactly what plenty of people need to get depression under control.

Depression symptoms can feel like a crippling cycle that prevents you from doing what you enjoy. Antidepressants help lift that fog that’s been hanging around, so you can start doing things you enjoy and making better choices. Eventually, you’ll start experiencing a more positive mood.

Sounds magical, right?

Before you get carried away with expectations, it’s important to remember that they don’t work immediately. One pill won’t cure your depression.

It usually takes three to four weeks before you will notice a change in your mood. Though for some, it could take longer than that. Being patient and regularly taking medication as prescribed is key to seeing positive results.

But What if They Don’t Work?

It’s also important to understand that not all antidepressants work the same for all people. After all, everyone is different. What works for me may not work for you.

This, of course, also applies to medications.

Around 60 percent of people who start taking antidepressants start to feel better with the first one they try.

However, that means that around 40 percent of people didn’t. That doesn’t mean that they can’t benefit from antidepressants, though — that just means they need to try more than one.

And sometimes, people might just need to adjust the dosage.

If you don’t notice any change in your mood after a few weeks, it’s time to talk to your doctor again. You could need a different kind of antidepressant, or a different dosage.

Your doctor will be able to find the medication and dosage that’s right for you, and can help you get back to feeling like yourself.

Kat Sweet

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