If you’re suffering from major depression, antidepressant treatment may relieve some of your symptoms. Antidepressants aren’t a silver bullet for depression, and they come with their own side effects and dangers. Plus, recent studies have raised questions about their effectiveness.
Learning the facts about antidepressants and weighing the benefits against the risks can help you make an informed and personal decision about whether medication is right for you.
Experts agree that depression involves much more than just “bad” brain chemistry. Serotonin is just one of many factors that may play a role in the disorder. New research points to other biological contributors to depression, including inflammation, elevated stress hormones, immune system suppression, abnormal activity in certain parts of the brain, nutritional deficiencies, and shrinking brain cells. And these are just the biological causes of depression. Social and psychological factors – such as loneliness, lack of exercise, poor diet, and low self-esteem – also play an enormous role in depression.
Researchers agree that when depression is severe, medication can be helpful – even life saving. However,research shows that antidepressants fall short for many people. A major government study released in 2006 showed that less than 50 percent of people become symptom-free on antidepressants, even after trying two different medications. Furthermore, many who do respond to medication slip back into major depression within a short while, despite sticking with drug treatment.
Other studies show that the benefits of depression medication have been exaggerated – with some researchers concluding that, when it comes to mild to moderate depression, antidepressants are only slightly more effective than placebos.
If you have severe depression that’s interfering with your ability to function, medication may be right for you. However, many people buy antidepressants Zoloft online when therapy, exercise, or self-help strategies would work just as well or better – minus the side effects. Therapy can also help you get to the bottom of your underlying issues and develop the tools to beat depression for good.
Questions to ask yourself and a mental health professional
- Is my depression severe enough to justify drug treatment?
- Is medication the best option for treating my depression?
- Am I willing to tolerate unwanted side effects?
- What non-drug treatments might help my depression?
- Do I have the time and motivation to pursue other treatments such as therapy and exercise?
- What self-help strategies might reduce my depression?
- If I decide to take medication, should I pursue therapy as well?
Questions to ask your doctor
- Are there any medical conditions that could be causing my depression?
- What are the side effects and risks of the antidepressant you are recommending?
- Are there any foods or other substances I will need to avoid?
- How will this drug interact with other prescriptions I’m taking?
- How long will I have to take this medication?
- Will withdrawing from the drug be difficult?
- Will my depression return when I stop taking medication?