Medication Management for Depression
hen you’re deep in the throes of depression, improving your mental health might feel impossible. Depression wipes away your energy, destroys your motivation, and makes you believe that you’re not worthy of help. Everyone who’s struggling with mental health deserves treatment, though. For many people with depression, medications are the first line of defense.
Antidepressants may not be for everybody, but they can have a powerful impact on your mood, motivation, and energy levels. Medication management can help you take the first steps toward recovery. As you continue to heal, medication allows you to better regulate your mood. You should know what medication management is, how antidepressants work, and what you can expect from your experience.
How Medication Treats Depression
The exact reason why depression medications work is unknown, but research shows that they can be highly effective. Antidepressants affect your brain’s level of certain neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that travel from neuron to neuron and trigger brain activity. Different types of neurotransmitters have different effects on the brain. Increasing or decreasing neurotransmitter levels can affect your thoughts, mood, and behavior.
Depression medications can interact with your brain in a number of ways. The most important benefit for people with depression is an elevated mood. By increasing the levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, the medication can help you feel happier, less stressed, and more regulated. Antidepressant medication can also improve your sleep, enhance your concentration, and make you feel more motivated to treat your depression and improve your mental health.
It usually takes a few weeks to notice a difference in your mood after you begin treating depression with medication. The other benefits, such as higher energy levels and better focus, may come first. If you don’t notice a difference within four or five weeks of taking your medication, consult with your psychiatrist.
Depression is a broad term. Within that category are several specific diagnoses. Fortunately, antidepressants can be effective for most forms of depression. For example, medication can treat major depression, persistent depressive disorder, and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. Antidepressants cannot, however, treat bipolar disorder as the medications can trigger a manic episode.
Some depression medications can help with other concerns, too. Psychiatrists often prescribe antidepressants to treat anxiety, OCD, insomnia, and chronic pain. Because so many people with depression also have co-occurring mental or physical health issues, medication can be a valuable treatment across the board.
Types of Medication for Depression
Not all depression medications function in the same way. Many have similar properties and effects, but there are several different types of medications. If you don’t respond well to one medication, your psychiatrist might recommend a different type. Here are the main classifications of antidepressants:
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): SSRIs stop the reabsorption of serotonin in your brain, which results in an enhanced mood. They’re the most common form of antidepressant because they typically have the fewest side effects.
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): SNRIs block both serotonin and norepinephrine from being reabsorbed. These medications are very similar to SSRIs, but some people respond better to one or the other.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): TCAs are an older medication that prevent the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine. They’re rarely the first recommendation because they can have unpleasant side effects. However, psychiatrists sometimes prescribe them when the patient hasn’t responded well to other medications.
Noradrenaline and specific serotoninergic antidepressants (NASSAs): NASSAs function similarly to SSRIs. Like the other less frequently prescribed antidepressants, psychiatrists typically only recommend NASSAs if SSRIs or SNRIs are ineffective for the patient.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): MAOIs are an older form of medication that aren’t frequently prescribed anymore. They have a higher risk of side effects and safety concerns than other forms of antidepressants, so they’re usually only prescribed when other medications have been ineffective.
Side Effects of Antidepressants
Some people take antidepressants with no issues, and others see some side effects. You should always keep your psychiatrist updated on the side effects you’re experiencing. Your psychiatrist may have recommendations to minimize the side effects, or they may adjust your prescription or dosage to help you feel better.
The following are some possible side effects of depression medications:
- Dry mouth
- Weight gain
- Sexual dysfunction
The Importance of Medication Management
Antidepressants are a valuable treatment option, but they need continuous management from a professional. If you take any psychiatric medications, it’s important that you regularly check in with a psychiatrist to make sure you stay safe and healthy.
Your body’s response to antidepressants can change over time, especially in your first few months of taking the medications. Your medication management psychiatrist should closely monitor your symptoms and change your doses or prescriptions if necessary to reduce your side effects. Even if you’ve been taking medications for years, you might go through changes that require a prescription adjustment.
Like any prescription, antidepressants can interact with other medications. Your psychiatrist should keep tabs on what other medications you take to ensure there aren’t any harmful interactions. If you’re prescribed something new for another health concern, you should always consult with your medication management psychiatrist.
If you’re considering quitting antidepressants, working alongside a psychiatrist is also vital. Not everyone wants to stop taking antidepressants, but many patients hope that their experience with medications is temporary. Your body and brain get used to the medications, though, so quitting can cause some uncomfortable symptoms. A psychiatrist will help you create a plan to safely taper off of the medication. They’ll check in with how you feel mentally, too, to make sure that stopping antidepressants doesn’t result in a mental health relapse.
Antidepressants can be incredibly helpful for treating depression, but prescriptions always need to be monitored by a psychiatrist. Your medication appointments are your opportunity to check in with your mental health, learn more about your prescriptions, and get valuable medical advice. Whether you’re just starting a medication or have taken one for years, you should never underestimate the importance of medication management.
Medication Management in Beverly Hills, Ca
The Beverly Hills Therapy Group offers medication management and therapy services. We work with clients with depression, anxiety, trauma, and a wide range of other mental health concerns. If you’re looking for a medication management psychiatrist in Beverly Hills, call The Beverly Hills Therapy Group today.