how antidepressants work

What Causes Depression In Teens?

Depression is a severe illness that has a detrimental impact on how someone thinks, feels, and behaves. Clinical depression, in contrast to normal sorrow, is a chronic issue. It frequently blocks the capacity to enjoy or anticipate pleasure and severely interferes with everyday functioning.
Teenagers are prone to feeling down or withdrawn at times. They may have a lot going on and need to take a break. However, if they are experiencing these symptoms for an extended length of time, they may be suffering from depression. If your teen suffers from depression and would like to speak to an expert, contact us for a free confidential call. We offer an in-depth teen depression treatment program right here in Los Angeles.
A variety of factors or events can be the cause, such as bullying, friendship issues, or problems at home or school. Other potential causes include poor mood regulation by the brain, genetic susceptibility, and adverse medical reactions. Depression is considered to be caused by decreased levels of neurotransmitters substances in the brain that allow the cells to communicate with one another such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Antidepressants are medications that are used to treat clinical depression or to keep it from recurring by balancing the levels of these chemicals.

How Many Types of Antidepressants Are Available?

Every class of antidepressants has its own set of advantages, disadvantages, and acceptable applications. Approximately 60% of patients respond to the medicine within two months, with a 50% reduction in their symptoms. Patients may be prescribed various antidepressants with varying dosages over time to identify the best type for them. While some may be preferred alternatives, medication selection varies depending on symptoms, treatment history, and co-occurring psychiatric problems.

Antidepressants are a prominent type of therapy for depression. Although they cannot cure depression, they can alleviate its symptoms. Since depression alters the brain’s chemicals and functions, antidepressants affect the circuits and substances that send messages via the nerve pathways.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

The most prescribed kinds of antidepressants are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). They operate by inhibiting the reabsorption of serotonin. This means that serotonin a mood-stabilizer neurotransmitter can remain active in the brain for longer than usual. SSRIs are typically chosen over other antidepressants because they have fewer adverse effects. They are also frequently used in conjunction with other treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Fluoxetine is most likely the most well-known SSRI, sold under the brand name Prozac. Other known brands are Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, and Celexa.

Noradrenaline And Specific Serotonergic Antidepressants (NASSAs)

Noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NASSAs) are psychiatric drugs predominantly used as antidepressants. NASSAs work by increasing the quantity of noradrenaline and serotonin in the synaptic cleft — the area between neurons at nerve synapses through which neurotransmitters convey their messages and block specific serotonin receptors. They are beneficial for some individuals who cannot take SSRIs. However, they also produce minor sexual difficulties and cause a greater need for sleep.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) were the first antidepressants launched in the 1950s, but are no longer widely used. They can have significant adverse effects and should only be administered by a professional. Their hazardous or even fatal interactions with foods and drugs such as cheeses, pickles, and wines, as well as some pain relievers, decongestants, and herbal supplements using MAOIs require a careful diet. MAOIs suppress monoamine oxidase, which is a naturally occurring molecule in the body that eliminates neurotransmitters. Tranylcypromine, phenelzine, and isocarboxazid are examples of MAOIs.

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

In the late 1950s, tricyclic antidepressants often known as cyclic antidepressants or TCAs were launched. They were among the earliest antidepressants and are still regarded as helpful in treating depression. Tricyclic antidepressants enhance norepinephrine and serotonin levels while blocking the function of acetylcholine, another neurotransmitter. Scientists believe that TCAs relieve depression symptoms by restoring the equilibrium of these neurotransmitters in the brain.
While they are a valuable option for people whose depression is resistant to other medications, they are no longer commonly regarded as the first drug treatment choice. TCAs might be harmful if taken in excess and are only recommended if other antidepressants have failed to provide relief.

Serotonin-norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

SNRIs were initially launched in the mid-1990s. The difference between SSRIs and SNRIs is that the former halt serotonin reuptake, but SNRIs restrain both serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake. SNRIs lead to an increase in serotonin and norepinephrine levels, which can help enhance someone’s mood, reduce anxiety, and relieve panic episodes. Many experts agree that a combination of antidepressant medication and psychotherapy is the best treatment for clinical depression. People with moderate to severe depression are treated with antidepressants and CBT. Furthermore, regular exercise has also been shown to be helpful for those with mild depression symptoms.

How Do Antidepressants Work?

Antidepressants operate by rebalancing neurotransmitters, which are substances in the brain that impact someone’s mood and emotions. These medications can help people feel better, sleep better, and enhance someone’s focus. Likewise, antidepressants block neurotransmitters from being reabsorbed into the brain’s neurons, allowing them to relay signals more effectively. As a result, the increased neurotransmitter levels can help alleviate sadness, anxiety, and chronic pain symptoms.

What Are The Side Effects of Antidepressants?

The severity of side effects varies according to the type of depression medication used, but they typically improve with time. It is critical to keep taking the antidepressants even after experiencing adverse effects, as it will take some weeks before seeing positive changes. With time, the benefits of therapy will surpass the often-temporary issues.
Antidepressants can cause:
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Sleepiness
  • Feeling tense or jittery
  • Nervousness and or feeling sick
  • Indigestion and stomach pains
  • Constipation appetite loss
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Decreased sexual drive
  • Difficulty reaching or sustaining orgasm during sex or masturbation
  • Erectile dysfunction

What Will Happen When I Stop Taking Antidepressants?

Some people believe that they no longer require antidepressants once they start feeling better. However, the symptoms are likely to return once the medicine wears off. Proper treatment usually lasts at least one or two years.
When antidepressants are abruptly discontinued, there may be physical and mental withdrawal-like symptoms caused by the absence of elevated serotonin levels. Antidepressant discontinuation symptoms are not connected to addiction they simply represent the physiological repercussions of discontinuing the medication.
Some of the most common signs of antidepressant withdrawal symptoms include:
  • Sleeping problems.
  • An overall feeling of discomfort.
  • Sudden and vivid nightmares.
  • Anxiety or despair.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Restlessness.
  • Mood changes.
  • Dizziness, balance issues, or vertigo.
  • Flu-like symptoms.
  • Headaches.
  • Coordination problems.
  • Tremors or muscle spasms.
Note that quitting abruptly can have fatal consequences. The antidepressants must be tapered off under a doctor’s supervision.

Can People Become Addicted to Antidepressant Medications?

Antidepressants have no clinically significant risk of causing addiction. Medical specialists do not believe them to be addictive, either. However, individuals with a history of drug abuse or addiction are more prone to overuse antidepressants, since excessively high dosages can result in feelings of euphoria.
Before the 1950s, opioids, amphetamines, and methamphetamines were occasionally utilized to treat depression. Nowadays, antidepressant misuse is associated with other drug addictions. Some people mix antidepressants with other drugs, like, marijuana, opioids, heroin, or alcohol, in an attempt to increase their effectiveness. Antidepressants can eventually stop functioning for people who genuinely require them. This may cause some users to raise their recommended dosage if they cannot get the relief they require.

Treatment for Antidepressant Abuse

While antidepressants are not as addictive as alcohol, opioid, heroin, amphetamines, or cocaine, they may induce a temporary physical dependency, as shown by the withdrawal symptoms after quitting or lowering their usage.
Fortunately, antidepressant abuse can be treated by slowly discontinuing its consumption or seeking help from substance abuse rehabilitation facilities. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How long should I take antidepressants? Clinicians typically advise patients to take the drug for at least six to nine months, but it varies on a case-by-case basis. Note that it is imperative to consult a health professional before discontinuing antidepressant medications.
  2. Are antidepressants addictive? Antidepressants are not addictive but can cause physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms after quitting.
  3. How do I cut down or stop taking antidepressants? Gradually reducing your dose under the supervision of your doctor is the best approach to discontinuing most antidepressants.
  4. Can antidepressants interact with other medications? Antidepressants may have pharmacodynamic drug interactions, either increasing or decreasing the effects of another medication. Let your doctor know what drugs you’re taking before you start taking antidepressants.
  5. What if I drink alcohol or coffee while taking antidepressants? It is advisable to avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol while taking antidepressants. It may aggravate your symptoms or amplify the adverse side effects of antidepressants, such as sleepiness, dizziness, and coordination issues.
  6. What if I use street drugs while taking antidepressants? Antidepressants must not be used with street or illicit substances. People who take antidepressant medication should exercise caution when combining it with other drugs. It might exacerbate symptoms and lead to an increase in the dosage required to achieve the desired effect. Furthermore, substances such as heroin and cocaine are highly addictive and can have severe consequences.
  7. Will antidepressants affect my ability to drive safely? The use of antidepressants can induce dizziness, sleepiness, and blurred vision until the brain adapts to the drug. If these symptoms persist, try to avoid driving since it might result in an accident. 
  8. Will antidepressants affect my sex drive and function? Antidepressants can affect your sexual drive and function at virtually any dose. Greater dosages are likely to raise the probability of adverse sexual effects. These effects usually go away after discontinuing the drug.
  9. Is it safe to take antidepressants while pregnant or breastfeeding? Taking antidepressants during pregnancy or while breastfeeding can have some negative consequences, such as potential birth abnormalities. Overall, however, this risk is relatively low.
  10. Can children and teens use antidepressants? The use of antidepressants in children and young people under the age of 18 is generally not advised. This is because, in rare circumstances, they might provoke suicidal thoughts and actions of self-harm. Antidepressant medications can be used to treat depression and anxiety in children and teens, but they must be taken under close medical supervision.
  11. Can the elderly use antidepressants? Antidepressants can successfully treat depression in the elderly. The use of SSRIs and SNRIs drugs is generally safe. However, because of the potential memory impairment and motor instability, they should be administered with caution.


Depression may have a significant impact on you or your teen’s daily living. Do not be afraid to consult and try different techniques until you find one that works. It is not uncommon to feel disheartened if the first few therapies do not result in improvement, but it is crucial to stick to the treatment plan. Just remember that it may take several months to observe an improvement with any form of treatment. Do not lose hope. Several effective therapies and programs are available to help manage depression symptoms. If your teen is struggling with depression, contact Key Healthcare today. We will develop a treatment plan to help your teen get through depression or other mental health issues in a secure and supportive environment.