This article discusses how well antidepressants treat the condition of depression.

In combination with psychotherapy, antidepressants are very helpful in the treatment of those who are seriously depressed. Depression is a serious mental illness in which a person feels deep sadness and despair for a period of weeks or months, resulting in problems thinking, causing physical symptoms and having a disruptive impact on life, activities and relationships. It has been said that it is the West’s second most disabling disease.

Depression can be caused by a variety of things. It can result from long-time substance abuse, or it may occur after a particular event like a death of a loved one, a heart attack or diagnosis of a terminal illness. However, possibly the most notable thing with regard to depression is that it runs in families and is frequently inherited. An imbalance of neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals, that are responsible for regulating mood is thought to be the cause of depression.

Two primary treatments are used to deal with depression. Psychotherapy is one treatment; it is a psychological method that helps people understand problems and alter troubling feelings, behaviors or relationships. Biomedical therapy, rather than psychotherapy, has become the most popular form of treatment for depression. Normally this takes the form of antidepressants. Newer medications include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, as well as those that target various neurotransmitters, such as Wellbutrin and Effexor.

Many jokes have been made about these drugs in a variety of settings. A common misconception is that the purpose of antidepressants is to help a seriously depressed person become more outgoing, productive or self-confident, when in reality the purpose is to help relieve the symptoms of depression to enable a person to return to a normal level of functioning.

As is the case with the majority of drugs used to treat conditions, antidepressants may cause side effects such as headaches, nervousness, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite and sexual dysfunction. Because these antidepressants are generally effective, they are quite popular in spite of these side effects. Prozac is taken by five million people in America, and twenty million worldwide. A study involving 158 outpatients that was recently submitted to the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that the recurrence of chronic severe depression can be avoided if one takes Zoloft long-term.

Since psychotherapy has been demonstrated to be effective in treating depression, concern has been expressed regarding its decline in use as a treatment option. A recent study that involved 600 patients suffering from major depression indicated that a combination of medications and psychotherapy produced the best results.

When used as prescribed and in combination with psychotherapy, antidepressants are helpful in treating depression. While adverse side effects do occur, the positive effects outweigh the negative.

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