The Pros And Cons Of Taking Antidepressants For Sad

After receiving a diagnosis of depression, whether it be seasonal affective disorder, postpartum or another common mood disorder, you face an important choice on the road to recovery: deciding whether or not to take antidepressants.
While there are positives and negatives to both decisions, the only one who will truly know the right choice for your mental health is you. Learn about the potential side effects, and make an informed decision with your doctor.

How Do Antidepressants for SAD Work?

Depression is commonly treated with antidepressants because they work to correct chemical imbalances in the brain. Neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, affect our mood, but in people suffering from depression, these chemicals are out of balance.
The human brain has approximately 10 billion brain cells, and each brain cell has as many as 25,000 connections with other cells. Neurotransmitters help signals pass between cells, but when these chemicals are not functioning properly, communication between brain cells becomes impaired.
Antidepressants help restore the natural flow of chemicals in the brain, increasing normal communication between cells, thus alleviating symptoms of depression.

How Long Will I Have to Take Antidepressants for SAD?

You, your doctor and your therapist will decide how long you will need to take your medication, as treatment varies on a case-by-case basis. The treatment will be assessed to evaluate how, and if, the drugs are working for you. Most people take antidepressants for an average of eight to 12 months, but longer periods of medication often occur at the discretion of a doctor.
Do not abruptly stop taking medication without a backup treatment plan. Many drugs that affect neurotransmitters rely on a steady build over time, so not finishing a prescription can have negative results.

What are Some Side Effects of Antidepressants for SAD?

Antidepressants may cause mild to severe side effects, so monitor your physical and emotional health carefully, especially when you first begin your prescription. Although the side effects often do not last long, they are something to consider. The most common side effects include headaches, nausea, sleeplessness or drowsiness, agitation, dry mouth, loss of libido and bladder issues. For some patients, symptoms of depression may worsen. Report any symptoms to your doctor or therapist, as even minor, initial side effects may signify larger problems with your prescription or diagnosis.
If you are experiencing any unusual reactions or side effects after taking antidepressant medication, or if these reactions seem to feel more than just a mild setback, it is important that you speak to your doctor immediately. You may also want to try treating SAD with seasonal affective disorder lights as an alternative.