What is an antidepressant, what does it do?

Antidepressants are psychiatric drugs used to treat depression. Some treat psychological disorders such as;


-Anxiety Disorders

-Post Traumatic Stress Disorders

-Sleeping disorders

Who can prescribe antidepressants?

· Psychiatrist

· Specialist nurse prescription

· A specialist pharmacist

How many different types of antidepressants are there?

There are several different types of antidepressants. They often affect the same brain chemicals and cause similar effects. But some people may respond better to certain antidepressants than others. And different drugs can cause different side effects.

Types of antidepressants include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Tricyclics and tricyclic related drugs
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

There are three essential molecules that are believed to be involved in the regulation of mood, chemically known as monoamines. These primarily work as neurotransmitters that transmit nerve signals to their corresponding receptors in the brain.

Antidepressants work by affecting these neurotransmitters, including:

Dopamine: Plays a central role in decision making, motivation, arousal, and pleasure and reward signals.

Norepinephrine: Affects alertness and motor function and helps regulate blood pressure and heart rate in response to stress.

Serotonin: Regulates mood, appetite, sleep, memory, social behavior and sexual desire.

In people with depression, the availability of these neurotransmitters in the brain is characteristically low. Antidepressants increase the availability of one or more of these neurotransmitters in different, marked ways. Of the five main types of antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin venorepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are the most commonly prescribed, especially in first-line therapy.

Many antidepressants can be prescribed by your doctor. But some can only be prescribed by a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist.

Antidepressants should only be used as prescribed and it may take up to eight weeks for the benefits to be fully felt. It is important that you never stop, cut, reduce, or increase doses without first talking to your doctor. Abruptly stopping can lead to uncomfortable and often debilitating withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, tremors, nightmares, dizziness, depression, and electric shock sensations. This can be avoided by gradually reducing the dose, preferably under the supervision of a physician.