So you go to a psychiatrist, stammer that you’re depressed, and the doctor chucks an SSRI at your face.
These are the most commonly prescribed depression medications. It stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. That basically means more serotonin. SSRIs encompasses many drugs. The most commonly prescribed one is Zoloft. SSRIs seem to have about a 40% to 60% success rate. Unfortunately, I’ve come across many patients who try an SSRI, it doesn’t work, and they give up on medication entirely, but there are so many other viable option.
Now not only increasing serotonin, these drugs also increase norepinephrine. That should have an effect on energy, arousal, alertness, etc. Cymbalta and Effexor are two of the most known to be effective. Although we don’t have statistics on it, SNRIs are known to be more effective than SSRIs. But it’s certainly possible neither works, and even then you should not give up.
Atypical Antidepressants are what worked for me. Each medication in this group works differently. I take Wellbutrin, which, rather than affecting serotonin, primarily affects dopamine. Therefore, it’s an atypical antidepressant. Everybody’s depression is different and serotonin is clearly not always the answer. Sometimes we have to ask our doctors about alternatives to SSRIs due to doctor’s tendency to prescribe nothing but them. Some of us respond better to atypical antidepressants.
But now let’s talk a little more creatively. What if something other than an antidepressant were to help with your depression?
Adderall is meant to be used to help a person with ADHD stay calm and focused. That’s great, but Adderall also provides a mood and energy boost, for some. I’ve heard of it not having that effect in a noticeable way, but that seems to be the exception.
Gabapentin is used for nerve pain and seizures. It’s also used off-label for anxiety. It works primarily by increasing GABA concentrations in the brain. GABA improves mood. This and Adderall have had dramatically life-altering effects for me, in relation to mood.
Mood stabilizers will typically only be given to those diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, but however they’re prescribed, they can potentially help with mood. An example of a popular mood stabilizer would be Lithium.
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