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What exactly do/can anti-depressants do?

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Sure, the name says it all, but, what exactly?


I'm basically asking in regards to this roller coaster I've got going on with my emotions. I've got highs and lows. And then there's the extreme lows followed by extreme highs. I basically am getting pretty sick of it, because I know that once I get happy, there's always the drop just waiting to happen. I want to kind of settle that down a bit. Instead of mountains and canyons, I'd prefer to have bumps and dips, if you know what I'm saying. Have more reasonable mood changes, instead of these enormous swings that pretty much determine my day.

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Well from what you are describing it sounds more like bipolar disorder than depression to me. Large mood swings from manic to depression is much more indicative of that kind of problem. And the treatment for that would be somewhat different than the treatment for depression.


However to answer your original question, anti-depressants alter your brain chemistry. They increase the levels of two brain chemicals called serotonin and noradrenaline because studies have shown that depressed people have lower levels of these chemicals than non-depressed people. Different drugs do this in different ways. Also, people respond differently to these drugs so they sometimes have to try multiple drugs to find out what works best for you.


The usual effect of these drugs is that a depressed person's mood is elevated. They are NOT 'happy pills'. If a depressed person is dealing with problems, those problems are still there. However the drugs allow the person to deal with those problems easier because they are not stuck down in an emotional hole.


I hope this helps you.

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Yep - that's about it. And it does sound like from what you've said that you're more in the bipolar niche.


Anti-depressents basically bring your brain chemistry up to a "normal" level, so normal coping skills can be used more effectively with your situations; if you're already happy, they're not going to make you giddy or feel great, but they do relieve the constant inability to pull yourself out of the hole every little thing can drive you into, and make things less completely overwhelming. It gives you more control over what you do with a bad situation, instead of feeling so beaten down by it you can't think through it for any way out.


Mood stabilizers are more common for bipolar - which is pretty much what it says, they try to balance the chemistry in your brain to a more constant level, instead of constant ups and downs, like a steadily flowing faucet, instead of a trickle or a torrent alternating.


For both, different medications work differently for different people - so a good psych will generally start with one of the most commonly effective, and if that doesn't work well for your particular needs, try different ones until the one that gives you the most consistent results is pinpointed.


Most will also recommend a period of therapy and counseling, so you can work on the coping strategies you'll still need, since you'll be in a better frame of mind to be able to concentrate and apply them, and see results without getting discouraged.

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  • 1 month later...

Anti-depressants work really well when it comes to neutralizing depression and mood instability. However one of the side effects of the drugs is that is interfers with the body's ability to metabolise carbohydrates. To avoid weight gain you will need to follow a low-carb diet while on anti-depressants.

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