We live in an era in which popping a pill to feel better has become the norm. There are pills to control our blood pressure, lower our cholesterol, regulate our hormones, improve our libido, increase our energy level, suppress our appetite, fight infection, thin our blood, sharpen our cognitive function, and stabilize our moods.
Some pills work wonders to improve our emotional and physical well being, some are necessary for survival, and some are taken by choice because, for whatever reason, we find life to be better with those pills than without them. But the opioid epidemic in the United States is proof that prescription drugs are not always as beneficial as was originally thought. Will antidepressants be the next group of drugs to come under fire for being dangerous in the long term?
Recent reports indicate that taking antidepressants over a period of many years may be dangerous and can lead to a whole host of medical problems including:
- Sexual problems
- Weight gain
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Not feeling like themselves
- Reduced positive feelings
- Feeling as if they’re addicted
- Caring less about other people
- Feeling suicidal
- Feeling the symptoms of withdrawal after stopping the medication
What Are Antidepressant Drugs?
First developed in the 1950’s, antidepressant use has become progressively more common in the last 20 years or so. These drugs aim to correct chemical imbalances of the brain’s neurotransmitters believed to be responsible for changes in mood and behavior. Antidepressants are medications that can help relieve symptoms of depression, social anxiety disorder, anxiety disorders, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and dysthymia (mild chronic depression).
There are several different types of anti-depressant medications, which are prescribed to treat a number of different medical conditions in addition to the ones listed above. Just some of the conditions treated with some form of anti-depressant include:
- Neuropathy (including diabetic neuropathy)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Bipolar disorders
- Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Childhood bedwetting
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Binge eating disorder
Types of Antidepressant Medication
Because of their success rate, antidepressants are hugely popular with both doctors and patients, alike, but now that long-term studies have been conducted on these drugs, the evidence may point to some dangers not previously realized with these drugs. If you take any of the class of drugs listed below, you may want to ask your doctor if the drug you’re taking is still considered safe and effective for what ails you.
- Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRI)
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI)
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA)
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI)
Some studies even indicate that long-term antidepressant use may actually increase depression in some people. As more research comes to light about the long-term effects of antidepressant medication on the human body and psyche, it will be interesting to see if fewer prescriptions for these drugs are written by doctors in coming years.