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What are the Pros and Cons of Antidepressant Use?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are a number of pros and cons related to antidepressant use, though specific advantages or drawbacks to the various medications often depend on individual users. In general, one of the major benefits of using antidepressants is the potential for serious depression to be reduced or alleviated, allowing for greater functionality for a person with chronic depression. Potential downsides can include a number of different side effects, as well as difficulty in continued usage after the medication begins to have a positive impact on a person with clinical depression.

Antidepressant use typically consists of the taking of antidepressant drugs prescribed for a particular patient by a licensed psychiatrist. Anyone considering the use of such drugs, as well as possible benefits and side effects of such pharmaceuticals, should consult with a trained professional psychiatrist for details. Individual medications can have a variety of side effects not unique to antidepressant use, and care should be taken whenever any type of prescription medication is used.

One of the major benefits of antidepressant use can be the alleviation of symptoms associated with chronic depression. Clinical depression can have numerous symptoms, beyond a general sense of melancholy or sadness, including physical aches and pains, excessive sleepiness, and lack of motivation. Antidepressant use can potentially alleviate these symptoms, reducing the effect that such depression has on a person’s life. This can help someone become more productive at work or home, feel better physically, and improve relationships with friends and family.

There are a number of potential downsides to antidepressant use, however, so care should be taken when using such medications. Since most antidepressants function by interacting with a person’s brain chemistry, individuals can experience various side effects. Some of the most common types of antidepressants are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which can have side effects such as decreased sexual desire, anxiety, and sleepiness or insomnia. Since these medications affect serotonin, which is involved in digestion, they can also cause nausea and diarrhea.

The process of finding the right medication can be difficult and may involve trying a number of medications. Starting and stopping antidepressant use can also be difficult as many medications can have withdrawal symptoms that develop after ending treatment, such as anxiety, dizziness, and insomnia. Some medications can even increase thoughts of suicide in a person, which can be extremely dangerous for someone who may already be suicidal due to depression.

Antidepressant use can also be difficult to maintain for many patients. Since the positive benefit of such medication is for a person to feel better, it can be easy for many people to believe they are cured and stop taking their medication. The effects of such medication often will not disappear for one or two weeks, which can only compound this erroneous belief. This means that successful medication can potentially cause a person to stop taking his or her medication, which can result in a patient experiencing a serious relapse into depression.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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