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Antidepressant FAQS

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What are antidepressants and how do they work?

Antidepressants are a class of drugs that reduce symptoms of depressive disorders by correcting chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters in the brain. Chemical imbalances may be responsible for changes in mood and behavior.

Neurotransmitters are vital, as they are the communication link between nerve cells in the brain. Neurotransmitters reside within vesicles found in nerve cells, which are released by one nerve and taken up by other nerves. Neurotransmitters not taken up by other nerves are taken up by the same nerves that released them. This process is called "reuptake." The prevalent neurotransmitters in the brain specific to depression are serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline).

In general, antidepressants work by inhibiting the reuptake of specific neurotransmitters, hence increasing their levels around the nerves within the brain, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antidepressants that will affect serotonin levels in the brain.

For what conditions are antidepressants used?

Antidepressants are used to treat several conditions. They include, but are not limited to: depression, generalized anxiety disorder, agitation, obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD), manic-depressive disorders, childhood enuresis (bedwetting), major depressive disorder, diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain, neuropathic pain, social anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) etc.

Some off- label uses of antidepressants include, but are not limited to: fibromyalgia, chronic urticaria (hives), hot flashes, hyperhidrosis (drug-induced), pruritus (itching), premenstrual symptoms, bulimia nervosa, Tourette syndrome, binge eating disorder, etc.




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