Antidepressants have undoubtedly become one of the major investments by the pharmaceutical industry in battling against psychotropic illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and other mentall instabilities. In this article i will be discussing the truth about how antidepressants work in relation to alleviating clinical depression. Are Antidepressants bad? How do they acutally cause someone to feel happy for a period of time and why don’t they last or even cure depression straight away?

Here we discuss the actual mechanism of antidepressants and what role they have (or atleast should have) in the lives of people who use them. These are the thoughts of what leading science actually says about antidepressants and their effectivity.

This Article does not intend to dump all information about antidepressants onto the public but rather to help the community understand what is really going on and how they can implement this knowledge to their own or other peoples lives by the growing awareness. It will not go into unnecessary detail for the general public to understand the overall picture of the process.

Lets Begin,

How Anti-depressants work

The therapeutic uses of drugs in relation to mental illnesses can be classified into 2 categories, Neurological and Psychotropic. Neurological uses refer to diseases such as Alzheimers, Parkinson’s disease etc while Psychotropic is what we want to talk about here, the mood and behaviour aspect.

These psychotropic drugs (Anti-depressants) act between two neurons where there is a small gap called a synapse. Think of it like a faucet and the sink. Water passes from the faucet and down the sink. Both the faucet and the sink drain represents two neurons responding to each other.

We all have heard about the famous “feel good” chemical known as serotonin. The water in between is the serotonin chemical passing through to communicate with the other neuron. So why is this important? Well it is generally known that clinical depression is due to chemical imbalances in the brain so we would want to increase the feel good hormone (Serotonin) also known as The Biological Amine Theory

Now it is important to know that its abit more complicated than using the faucet sink analogy. But if this makes it easier to understand than here is what is to know. This faucet sink actually reuses the water that it drained. So in essence serotonin will be taken up back by a transporter mechanism ready to either be metabolised (broken down) or re-distributed outside.

Antidepressants affect this mechanism by accomplishing 3 thhings:

  • inhibit reuptake (stop reusing water)
  • inhibit metabolism (breakdown) 
  • Enhance release (more water)

So considering these 3 things it all aims to increase the concentration of serotonin within the synapse. To do this, these antidepressants must block the reusage transporter, Deactivate the metabolising enzyme, and stop any mechanisms that stop serotonin from coming out to the synapse, so the serotonin stays in the synapse in high concentration. Such drugs are like Anafranil ®, or Prozac. Hopefully you can see the overall picture now. In essence we want the sink flooding.

Are they good or bad for you?

Honestly it is not simple to say but yes and no. Yes it does work in alleivating clinical depression by enhancing the concentration of the feel good hormone and our body’s sensitivity to it. However, is it the end all be all solution for depression?

There has been alot of controversy over this issue. But what does the best science tell us about depression and antidepressants? A video by Big Think successfully addresses the main point of this article about the actual credibility of anti-depressants.

To summarise the video basically antidepressants do work but only to a certain extent. Is it the holy grail of tackling mental illness? No. What is boldy stated in the video by psychologists and neuroscientists is that depression is only a response of something deeper than just our chemical imbalances but rather how we live our lives.

Telling someone that antidepressants will finally cure their mental illness for good which will elevate their happiness, is an antidepressant itself. This should change how we look at mental instability other than being trivial as just re-filling up our brains with the good chemicals. Its not about what is in your head or in your mind but in the way that we are living.

This by no means gets rid of the credibility of medical approaches to curing clinical depression but it is definitely not the source of help. It is unscientific to state that depression is only caused by the imbalances in our brain when depression itself can cause the imbalance prior to it. The body responds and acts in what is apparent to what the mind thinks.

In Daniel goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ, he has researched extensively on the power of our minds and good thoughts on the body’s physiology. For example a study by David Felten discovers that the immune system is directly connected to neurons that stem up to the brain where thoughts can trigger its response to kill diseases.

Goleman also extends his point in studies of emotions that are correlated to heart diseases. And if its one emotion that is connected to heart diseases such as heart attack, or arrythmias is anger, hostility and overall toxic emotions. Knowing this, we should re-evaluate the importance of emotional well-being in treating depression not as the main source again as with prescriptions, but adding another element to the approach.

All Problems are Rational

Its really hard to understand why things are the way they are when we only look at the surface. Suicides, Homicides, or general problems that we all face alone. In relation to depression the problem a person goes through is rationally capable of inflicting pain to them but what they say is not necessarily what they truly feel.

We can understand why people with most traumatic emotional and mental experiences would want to seclude themselves and only give people a description of what they feel but not actually showing the whole truth. With the highly critical, and harsh world we live in today it is no wonder why people would not want to show their true intentions.

But that is where we need to start to fully understand what depression is. The most important question to ask is why. Why do we feel so depressed? for example someone who is a victim of social pressure would respond why they need people to accept them because they need friends. Well why do you need friends? because if i dont i get lonely. Well why dont you like being lonely? because no one does. Some people like being alone but why dont you? Because i dont like to deal with myself.

That’s where it’ll start showing and note this does not represent overall how people will respond. Some are more stubborn than others but it takes a time of confidence and vulnerability for the real reason why they feel depressed. Once they fully address their problem then getting help is their antidepressant, whether it be pharmaceutical or in therapy.

Understanding the true role of Anti-depressants

Anti-depressants have already recieved their credibility in successfully giving the patient a temporary time of emotional and mental stability. However, seeing that people will depend solely on it is no effective approach where their only source of help is one drug away and then go back to their depressed state.

The side-effects of antidepressants is depression itself and it does no justice to the actual gravity of depression alone. As previously stated depression is something deeper than in our chemicals but in how we live our lives and how we handle the daily problems. Anything that can assist a person in being happy by themselves not solely depending on one aspect such as prescriptions, over-dose, etc. is an antidepressant.

This article may not do justice to the wide spectrum that covers the approach to tackle mental illness but it is definitely a start in creating the correct awareness to the public and for the populations undergoing their own struggles. Please share your thoughts and experiences of this issue in the comment section below. If you find this information a value you can donate to however you feel the message is worth from the donate icon on the side bar. Your generosity is much appreciated 🙂

Signing off

Author,

Zulfan

 

 

 

 

8 Comments

  1. I found this article very helpful, clear and easy to understand. I never knew how they worked until now – thank you for the education! Your tips and level of detail is really superb in helping me get a better understanding of them – thanks again

  2. I found this article really useful. I take anti-depressants myself and it’s really cool to know how they work. I’ve never been able to understand before so thank you!

  3. Thank you for the information in this article! I found it really helpful to have this deeper dive into how anti depressants work. While I agree that temporary relief from symptoms is helpful for some, there are definitely long term risks that need to be addressed more thoroughly than they are now.

  4. Thank you for your interesting and very informative article on anti depressants. Here in Australia today it is actually #RUOK day. Which is encouraging people asking others if they are alright. Anti depressants are a difficult and harmful meds which mask the problem. So difficult to come off too. It took a friend of mine years to get off them. I totally agree with you that they can harmful.

  5. Hi Zulfan,
    thanks for sharing your take on antidepressants. Only people who have used them or have someone in the family who has used them knows a little about it

    My wife used antidepressants for some time last year. She was battling what we thought a severe clinical depression. Went to the psychiatrist, who immediately prescribed antidepressants. She was into her 7th month of pregnancy when she started to use them.

    We were very skeptical at first because we did not have very positive references about using antidepressants and I had been reading a lot about it online.

    But since she was so down (and had been for many years – but now it was worse than ever), we decided to give it a try.

    She only used them for around 5 or so months, and we realized that things were not improving at all. Doctors would recommend using them longer to see the effect. However, we knew clearly that it was not the right thing for her.

    So she stopped using them, going down slowly with the number of pills she had to take.

    After doing more research and finding a counselor, we found out that she has been suffering from anxiety for many years due to a difficult past. The treatment that she takes now includes no medicine, but a strict food regime, and many other things. And she is making great progress like we had never seen.

    For us, antidepressants were not the right thing. However, I believe that there are people who have been helped by using them. Like you say, it is not just a simple yes or no if they are bad or not. There may be cases where they are good.

    One thing that is very important to consider is that doctors are very quick to prescribe antidepressants. But in many cases, there are underlying issues that cannot be fixed by pills.

    For example, I find that many people that have conflicts with other people, or that are bitter against others or harm others with words and actions, commonly say they are depressed. But often that is not the case, if they would change their behavior towards others, they would stop having these inflicting thoughts. I have observed that so many times.

    However, I am happy that medicines has found solutions for the ones that are suffering from a real problem that needs medicine to get fixed.

    One could say a lot about this topic.

    Thanks for pointing it out,
    Oscar

    1. Hi Oscar!

      Thank you so much for your feedback and your concern for this underlying important topic. Im sorry to hear about your wife having to go through all that battling something that hurts her but i see that she is very lucky to have a supportive person like you beside her. To me that is something very priceless.

      Now also hearing that your wife is doing better makes me even more happy that you see the reality of depression. If all our problems were to be solved by mere drug intake every hour or week it undermines the honour of humanity. 

      There is a book id like you to really read that really made an impact on how i changed the view on all forms of mental unhealthiness. Its about a person who even had gone through thoughts of suicide and constant increase in dose of antidepressants and how he realised the problem was much deeper than his chemicals

      https://amzn.to/2D1eIDM

      Here it is. Its an affiliate link from my website but you are free to not use it but this is one genuine reccomendation i have for you. I hope the best for your wife and your family as a whole in attaining peace and happiness 🙂

      Zulfan

      1. Thanks, Zulfan,

        yes, one thing is the battle that the person is having with depression and anxiety and the other thing is the people closest to that person and their battles.

        We are absolutely thankful that things have been going better because they were really bad off track and we did not see an end of the tunnel. Although I have never had depression myself, I do understand quite a bit about it through the struggles my wife went through.

        Depression can rip marriages apart and break relationships. It has had its toll on our family, but we managed to fight through it together and are now happy that things are different from what they were a year ago. And we do see things in different perspective now.

        Thanks for sharing the book, I have added it to my basket. Whenever, as soon as my $ will let me, I will buy it and read it. Sounds like a good read.

        Thanks for sharing,
        Oscar

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