Depression is an increasingly common problem among the general population today. It can strike without warning and manifests itself in different ways.
For some it might be a loss of appetite or reduces interest in things they once enjoyed. It might be accompanied by fatigue, feelings of sadness, and concentration problems. Sometimes a doctor or psychiatrist will work with a patient to prescribe antidepressants as part of their treatment plan. Antidepressants work by altering the balance of chemicals known as neurotransmitters in the brain.
These include serotonin, dopemine, and norepinephrine. When one of these chemicals, dopamine for example, runs low it can make you feel down, unmotivated, depressed, and anxious.
In this article, will provide a quick primer for consulting with a doctor online to help you determine if you need antidepressants as well as cover the four different types of antidepressants and their effects.
Consulting With A Doctor Online
Antidepressants aren’t like many of the over the counter medications you can get from the pharmacy. To get them, you need to first consult with a doctor or psychiatrist. If they work with you to decide that an antidepressant might help with your treatment following a mental health evaluation, they may prescribe one to add to your treatment plan.
Thanks to the advent and booming popularity of telemedicine, getting medicine for depression and anxiety is as easy as consulting with a doctor online. To do so, find your preferred telemedicine provider, select a doctor, and book an appointment. Within 15 minutes, you’ll be speaking with a licensed and board certified doctor.
After the consultation, they’ll send your prescription to a local pharmacy where you can pick it up at your convenience. The doctor will provide detailed instructions for using the medicine, go over any possible side effects, and give you any additional guidance to help with your treatment. Telemedicine lets you use your insurance as well, so you’ll be able to get convenient healthcare at an affordable rate without ever leaving your home.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
Selective serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs, are a class of antidepressants that do pretty much what the name implies: increase serotonin levels in the brain. Specifically, they block the serotonin from being reabsorbed as its transmitted throughout the brain.
This in turn creates more serotonin. More serotonin can lead to improved mood, happiness, and better sleep. It’s a commonly prescribed antidepressant that you may know better under names like Sertraline (aka Zoloft) or Fluoxetene (aka Prozac).
As with many other prescription drugs, SSRIs have possible side effects such as nausea, headache, dry mouth, and dizziness. It’s important to speak with your doctor in depth about the antidepressants you’ll be prescribed to understand their benefits and potential side effects ahead of time.
Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake
Similar to SSRIs, serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) stop the absorption of certain chemicals — in this case serotonin and norepinephrine — back into the cells they came from. In effect, SNRIs maintain levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine to help stabilize mood, alertness, and energy. One of the most common SNRI antidepressants is Duloxetine (aka Cymbalta).
Other common SNRIs that doctors prescribe are Desvenlafaxine, Levomilnacipran, Milnacipran, and Venlafaxine. In addition to depression and anxiety, some SNRIs can be used as a fibromyalgia treatment. SNRIs are not recommended for pregnant patients or those with a history of liver damage. Be sure to check the medication’s literature for a list of side effects and discuss them with your doctor as needed.
Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)
Tricyclic antidepressants are similar to actual biological processes in the brain. They increase the levels of our two stalwart companions, serotonin and norepinephrine, while simultaneously blocking the effects of something else called acetylcholine.
In a way, TCAs try to restore the balance of the neurotransmitters in your brain. Unfortunately, they also have a mild sedative effect and some other possible side effects like blurry vision, increased heart rate, and lower blood pressure. The following are the FDA approved TCAs that are prescribed in the US:
In addition to being a depression treatment, TCAs are also used to treat OCD, panic disorder, and chronic pain. TCAs interact with other drugs in various ways, so you’ll need to discuss these things thoroughly with your doctor during a consultation.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
When neurotransmitters breakdown, the process is performed by your body’s monoamine oxidase enzymes. A monoamine oxidase inhibitor stops the enzymes from performing this action. Low levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are often linked to depression and anxiety. When using an MAOI, the neurotransmitters in question are prevented from being broken down, effectively keeping those levels up. MAOIs are only usually prescribed when other antidepressants aren’t helping the patient. They must be taken at the recommended dosage with no deviation and be carefully monitored for side effects.