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Definition - What does Antidepressants mean?

Antidepressants are psychiatric drugs given to patients who suffer from certain depressive disorders including anxiety disorders and chronic depression. Symptoms can be alleviated through medication which is used to correct chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters in the patient's brain. If successful, a patient's mood and behavior is more normalized, and they are better able to function and perform their normal daily activities.

Currently there are over 27 million patients using antidepressants throughout the United States, a significant increase from just twenty years ago. In fact, the usage has increased over 100% in the last two decades. Experts are not sure why there has been such a high rate of increase but some reasons may include the increased care for those with mental disorders, increased awareness of certain conditions, and decrease in the societal stigma of seeking treatment for mental disorders.

Types of Antidepressants

There are five different types of antidepressants: Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), which inhibit the brain enzyme monoamine oxidase; Noradrenaline and Specific Serotoninergic Antidepressants (NASSAs); Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs); Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs); and Tricyclics.

Common side-effects of antidepressants can include seizures, insomnia, anxiety, arrhythmia, hypertension, rash, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, weight loss, constipation, urinary retention, increased pressure on the eye, and sexual dysfunction. Patients with severe side-effects from taking any medication should consult with their doctor.

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