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11 Common Myths and Facts About Antidepressants

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Myths and Facts About Antidepressants
Myths and Facts About Antidepressants

If you have moderate to severe depression that affects your daily life, you and your doctor can discuss treatment options: usually, a combination of antidepressants are prescribed. In research, it has been found that antidepressants are similar in terms of safety and effectiveness. Nonetheless, patients tend to have similar concerns about their use - and you can too.

The antidepressants are a very common drug under investigation in 2015-2018, the period in question was used by about 13% of adults. However, despite the widespread use of antidepressants, there are still many myths and misconceptions that accompany their use, which need to be debunked.

What Are The Most Common Myths About Antidepressants?

Let's take a look at the 10 most common myths and misconceptions about antidepressants.

Myth 1: Antidepressants Are Addictive.

Fact: Antidepressants are not addictive physiologically or psychologically, but they can cause the disorder if they stop abruptly.

Unlike sleeping pills and some stress medications, antidepressants are not addictive. However, you should never stop taking antidepressants on your own without the supervision of a doctor. While your body does not crave the drug, it will be affected by abrupt discontinuation, especially at higher doses. The disorder is the result of abrupt discontinuation of certain types of antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Discontinuation of the syndrome can include a variety of symptoms that can occur in patients who suddenly stop taking SSRIs or SNRIs. These are the most common symptoms of Cessation Syndrome:

  • Feelings of vertigo
  • Sleep problems
  • Some people describe strange sensory symptoms, such as a tingling sensation in the skin or a “zapping” sensation in the brain.
  • Feeling anxious

Everyone should consult his or her doctor before stopping an antidepressant. Discontinuation syndrome can be prevented by the careful withdrawal of the drug under the supervision of a physician.

Myth 2: Antidepressants Have Horrible And Long-Lasting Side Effects.

Fact: While antidepressants may have side effects, usually medication is prescribed in which the benefits outweigh the side effects and the side effects are minimal.

People are often reluctant to take antidepressants because they fear side effects. Like all medicines, antidepressants can have side effects. Side effects generally occur during the first few weeks of treatment and are less common later. Patients receiving SSRIs sometimes have a change in their sexual response, so it may take longer to peak or require more arousal.

Side effects also depend to some extent on the drug, the dose used and the individual. Even sometimes side effects can be used to your advantage. For example, if you have trouble sleeping at night and medicine has the side effect of making you drowsy, then it would be helpful to take the medicine at night.

These side effects are sometimes short-lived, appear in the early stages of treatment and diminish as the patient's body becomes accustomed to the drug. If side effects persist, you may want to talk to your doctor about switching to another medicine or finding the best way to treat them.

Myth 3: I Should Take Antidepressants For The Rest Of My Life.

Fact: If this is your first episode of depression, you will probably need to take antidepressants for nine to twelve months.

A general rule of thumb used by doctors is that a person should be treated with antidepressants at least one and a half times the duration of the depressive episode before weaning. The goal during the first weeks and months of treatment is to relieve symptoms and, if possible, eliminate depression. Once achieved, treatment is continued for six to nine months. This follow-up treatment is necessary to prevent the recurrence of symptoms. Long-term antidepressant use is only considered for a smaller percentage of people who have had two or more relapses of major depression in their lifetime.

Myth 4: Antidepressants Change A Person's Personality

Fact:  There are no drugs that change people's personalities.

Some people worry that using antidepressants to affect their brain chemistry could change their personality or make them "artificially" happy. Critics of antidepressants argue that they create a false sense of happiness and that this results in a change in the personality of the person using them. In reality, however, antidepressants do not make people suddenly happy, but reduce the effects of depression and bring them back as close as possible to the state they were in before they became depressed. So basically, they push people to find themselves again. Antidepressants are not "happy pills" nor do they change your personality. Antidepressants do not change who you are; they help reduce some of the symptoms that are affecting you. When they work, antidepressants return you to your previous level of function as they were before the depression.

Myth 5: Antidepressants Increase Body Weight

Fact: Antidepressants may not actually be the direct cause of weight gain, you may possibly gain some weight as a potential side effect.

The myth that antidepressants increase body weight repels people who really need them from using them. So you should know that antidepressants do not necessarily increase body weight. Depending on the type of antidepressant and how your body reacts to it, there may be a slight increase in weight, but in such a case you can talk to your doctor who is able to replace them with a different type, which will not have this complication.

Myth 6: Antidepressants Reduce Libido And Will Ruin My Sex Life.

Fact: Some antidepressants, such as SSRIs, can have an effect on libido or make it difficult to achieve orgasm.

In this case, this effect depends on the type of antidepressant and how your body reacts to it. The truth is that some types of antidepressants are more likely to affect libido than other types, but it is difficult to determine their full effect on the sex hormone, as depression reduces sexual function anyway. Approximately 35-50% of people will experience sexual side effects with SSRIs. Lowering your SSRI dose can help. Side effects of SSRIs can range from decreased sexual desire to decreased or delayed orgasm in women and delayed ejaculation and orgasm in men.  Sexual side effects can decrease over time, but other options include reducing the dose of the antidepressant, switching to another medication that does not have sexual side effects, or adding a factor to minimize sexual side effects. Talk to your doctor for further advice.

Myth 7: Antidepressants Do Not Cure The Underlying Problem

Fact: While it is true that antidepressants will not do much to alleviate the environmental conditions that cause depression, they can be an “enabling drug that alleviates the symptoms of major depression to allow a person to continue and benefit more. From lifestyle changes, support groups, and counseling techniques.

There are people who believe that depression can only be effectively treated with lifestyle changes and that antidepressants are unnecessary. But the truth is that many people with depression are unable to change their lifestyle because they are not in the mood for anything. In fact, many times they do not even want to get out of bed. This is where antidepressants come in to push people to change their lifestyles. This is why the best treatment for depression is a combination of medication and lifestyle changes.

Myth 8: If You Use Antidepressants and Do Not Feel Better In A Week It Means That They Do Not Work

Fact: It takes about 4 to 6 weeks to determine if the antidepressant is relieving the symptoms and working satisfactorily.

This myth is a big problem because it pushes people to stop their antidepressants after a week if they do not feel as well as they would like. As a result, they continue to suffer from the symptoms of depression and convince themselves that they will never feel better. According to experts, however, some drugs are immediate relief, while others (such as antidepressants) have a slower effect. Specifically, it takes about four to six weeks at a clinically effective dose to determine if the antidepressant is relieving symptoms and working satisfactorily. However, you will feel the side effects much sooner. Stick to it for six weeks before deciding.

Myth 9: When You Start To Feel Better, You Need To Stop Taking Antidepressants

Fact: Stopping an antidepressant without consulting your doctor could be dangerous as the symptoms may relapse.

This myth is especially dangerous for people suffering from depression, as with the cessation of antidepressants the symptoms usually return, increasing the risk of substance abuse or even suicide. So NEVER stop your antidepressants without first talk to your doctor, who when he thinks you are really ready to stop taking them will help you reduce them gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Just as you shouldn't stop taking a course of antibiotics prematurely even if you feel better, your doctors recommend that you keep taking antidepressants for a set period of time, even when you feel fine.

Myth 10: Taking Antidepressant Is A Sign Of Weakness.

Fact: Like any other organ in the body, the brain is also susceptible to disease. Taking antidepressant medication does not make you weak.

Do the person taking medications for diabetes or heart disease is considered "weak.” Taking antidepressants to treat depression is an attempt to take care of your well-being. Antidepressants are not a chemical crutch and you do not need to be ashamed or embarrassed to take them to control your depression.

Myth 11: Antidepressants Are "Happy Pills."

Fact: Antidepressants are often called “drugs” in slang but they have nothing to do with amphetamines or recreational drugs that induce euphoria.

Antidepressants are designed to correct imbalances in certain brain chemicals and make you feel like yourself, not just a happier self. A person without these imbalances, who does not have depression, will not feel any effect of antidepressants, and may even feel ill. 

Disclaimer:  Only generic information is provided in this content and this is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult your own doctor or a specialist for more information.  Please check with your doctor if you are on any prescription medications. Some foods and supplements may interfere with certain medications. HEALTHY and FITNESS do not claim responsibility for this information.

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