Depression: how antidepressants can help

A man sits desperately with his back to a wall and covers his face with his hands

More and more people suffer from depression. The severity and symptoms are wide-ranging. Children and adolescents are also affected more frequently nowadays. Anyone who feels depressed or powerless over a longer period of time and can rule out physical causes – such as vitamin D3 deficiency – can be helped by antidepressants after consulting a doctor. The most important thing here is regularity of intake.

In the case of physical complaints, it is usually easy enough to prescribe the right medicine. With mental health problems, on the other hand, the path to the right medication can be a long one. Because our brain is extremely complex and nowhere near as well researched as the human body.

Also, not all people have good experiences with antidepressants. Possible side effects such as high blood pressure, stomach problems or headaches can be experienced as so distressing that the antidepressants are soon discontinued. In addition, many patients are also concerned that this type of drug can quickly become addictive. But once the right antidepressant has been found, the quality of life can improve suddenly and sustainably.

What are antidepressants and how do they work?

Antidepressants are psychotropic drugs – the name given to medicines used to treat mental illness. It is important to know that antidepressants are neither stimulant nor soporific, nor can they be addictive. When you are in a depressive phase, some processes in the brain do not work as they should.

The messenger substances in the brain, which are responsible for communication between the nerve cells stored there, no longer work at the usual level. This is where antidepressants come in and try to remedy the resulting dysfunctions and channel more neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft. This area – the space between two communicating nerve cells – is important for the transmission of nerve impulses.

Antidepressants strengthen the neurotransmitters serotonin, noradrenalin and dopamine. The result: the nerve cells can communicate better with each other again. However, it can take a few days or weeks for the depressive symptoms to subside and for a feeling of improvement to set in.

These antidepressants are often used:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include, for example, the drugs fluvoxamine, fluoxetine, citalopram and sertraline.
  • Selektive Serotonin-Noradrenalin-Wiederaufnahmehemmer (SNNRI), dazu zählen zum Beispiel Duloxetin und Venlafaxin
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), examples of which are amitryptiline and clomipramine.

Treating depression in the long term

If you have found the right medication and feel better, you should not stop taking antidepressants immediately. This may seem tempting, but it can soon lead to plunging into the next depressive phase. It is recommended to continue the treatment for up to six months after recovery – after that, the medication can be carefully phased out. This means that you take smaller and smaller doses of it until you eventually stop taking it altogether.

The following therapeutic measures can support the drug treatment:

  • Light therapy:the daily “light shower” increases the serotonin level
  • Exercise therapy: all kinds of exercise can help strengthen mental health
  • Healthy diet: Omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids are important for the formation of neurotransmitters

Of course, these measures do not replace antidepressants, but they can support the body in the recovery process.

Taking antidepressants regularly: the TOM app helps

Especially with antidepressants, it is absolutely necessary to take them regularly. Are you a bit forgetful and don’t always remember to take your tablets? The TOM app reliably reminds you to take your medication every day. A new drug is added and another is dropped? No problem! In the virtual medicine cabinet of the app, you can re-sort your medicines at any time. Download the TOM app now and never forget to take your antidepressants again.

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