A variety of new antidepressants have been developed to help in the fight against depression over the past couple of decades. These are rapidly gaining popularity with psychiatrists and general medical practitioners as they are thought to be effective for a wider variety of patients suffering from major depressive disorder and related mood disorders than previous types of medical treatment for depression.
Among these related illnesses is bipolar disorder, which can look exactly like regular clinical depression at certain times. This is why it is vital to be examined by a medical doctor and a psychologist. They will be able to rule out related mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, as well as physiological illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and vitamins deficiencies which can mimic the symptoms of depressive disorder.
It is important for consumers to keep in mind that mental health is comprised of more than simply biological factors that can be affected by medicine. Cognitive, emotional, family, and social factors play a very real and measurable role in the progression and maintenance of depression symptoms. Counseling and psychotherapy can be a great help to people who are suffering from depression symptoms including sadness, hopelessness, despair, suicidal thoughts, disrupted sleep and appetite, low energy levels, anxiety, and social withdrawal. The most effective depression treatment incorporates antidepressant medications, as research has shown that this is more effective than therapy alone.
It is important for consumers to be aware of the role that older and newer antidepressants can play in fighting depression, because this will help them understand why it is important to follow their doctor’s instructions about taking depression medication. Medication compliance is a tremendous issue for doctors, and one for which they tend to receive little training in improving. An entire field, health psychology, has grown up around the need to inform and educate consumers about their role in their own medical treatment and to help them maintain adequate motivation to comply with doctor’s orders.
There are also a variety of alternative treatments for depression including exercise programs, acupuncture, and herbal remedies. Clinical research has provided some evidence that patients who receive these types of interventions in addition to psychotherapy and pharmacological treatments achieve better results, particularly when their symptoms are severe.
Older antidepressants tended to be a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. This means that they selectively target the receptor sites for serotonin, a key neurotrasmitter molecule. Serotonin has long been thought to play a key role in the regulation of mood, and is involved in a number of bodily functions that are related to depressive disorders, such as sleep, appetite, energy level, and metabolism.
However, newer understandings of the biology underlying depression point to the role of multiple neurotransmitters interacting with one another. So new antidepressants affect not only the levels of available serotonin, but also other neurotrasmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrin.
The problem with these new drugs is very similar to the problems with the old drugs, however, in that no one is exactly sure what causes depression and so no one is exactly sure what might cure it. Medications that work for depression are used essentially because they work. However, even drug companies are experiencing a problem in getting new drugs approved because placebos are becoming more effective in lock-step with their new medicines. This means it is harder to get new drugs approved, because the drug companies must demonstrate that their new antidepressant medications are more effective than placebo.