Long Term Effects of Antidepressants

Antidepressants are often prescribed when a person is experiencing depression. These drugs can ease your symptoms by altering specific chemicals in your brain. With the help of some therapies such as the talk therapy, they can treat depression more efficiently. However, you should be cautious about long term side effects of antidepressants.

Long Term Effects of Antidepressants

There are five different types of antidepressants, and all of them can cause side effects. The primary targets of these drugs are neurotransmitters. About half of the antidepressants users suffer from some types of side effects.

1. Mild and Serious Physical Symptoms

Initially, several people may experience headaches, insomnia, nausea, joint pain, skin rashes, muscle pain or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and are only temporary. A more serious physical symptom related to the long term effects of antidepressants is reduced blood clotting, as these medications can decrease the neurotransmitter serotonin concentration in platelets. The risk for complications and bleeding during surgery increases significantly in some patients.

2. Uncontrolled Movements

Sometimes antidepressants can trigger uncontrolled movements. It can instigate muscle spasms, compulsive restlessness, tics, trembling, and lack of fine motor skills. Chances are rare, and these symptoms occur most often in elderly patients or those taking fluoxetine and citalopram that remain in the bloodstream for a long time.

3. Sexual Side Effects

Antidepressants can also have bad effects on sex. In women, sometimes they cannot climax or have hampered lubrication. Men can experience lack of erection or inability to ejaculate. Both genders may have a diminished desire or interest in sexual contact.

4. Medication Interactions

Antidepressants are processed in the liver by a kind of enzyme which is also responsible for the digestion of other medications. Therefore, taking antidepressants may interfere with the absorption of other drugs. Besides, antidepressants can negatively interact with other medications, thus altering their effects or causing an unexpected side effect. 

5. Withdrawal Symptoms

Long term effects of antidepressants also include withdrawal symptoms when you cease taking them. The symptoms may include nausea, irritability, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression and tingling in extremities. 

6. Effects on Unborn Child

Some studies have shown that antidepressant usage while pregnant can cause premature birth and low birth weight. There is also evidence that newborns can also suffer from withdrawal symptoms, lasting a couple of days to a month. A doctor must weigh the benefits of antidepressants for the mother versus the risks to the unborn child.

7. Suicide Risk

Suicide risk has been associated with the use of antidepressants. Thoughts of self-destruction or violence towards oneself has been recorded in many cases. These thoughts may diminish over time but it needs more attention because it can lead to death.

8. Diabetes Risk

Continued use of antidepressants has been associated with a greater chance of developing diabetes. The risk is higher in people taking tricyclic antidepressants or individuals over the age of 30.

9. Life-Threatening Idiosyncratic Reaction

Antidepressants that affect the central dopaminergic neurotransmitters can cause a life-threatening idiosyncratic reaction referred to as neuroleptic malignant syndrome. The reaction can cause an altered mental state, nervous system dysfunction, fever and muscle stiffness.

How to Overcome Depression Without Taking Drugs

Depression Sign

There are so many long term effects of antidepressants. Actually, you can overcome your depression by several life style changes without suffering from those side effects.

  • Decrease the consumption of processed food and sugar: Processed foods contain additives which may affect your mental state and brain function. Foods high in refined sugar, fructose and artificial sweeteners should be kept to a minimum.
  • Eat more probiotic foods: Probiotic foods promote a healthy gut by balancing the intestinal bacteria, and lots of studies have proven that a healthy gut is responsible for your mental and physical health. Kefir and fermented vegetables are both probiotic foods.
  • Consume vitamin B12: Low vitamin B12 levels have been connected to depression. 
  • Have vitamin D: Researchers have found that individuals with low levels of vitamin D have a greater chance of depression by as much as 10 times compared to that of someone with optimal levels. Sun exposure is your best source for vitamin D.
  • Consume animal-based omega-3 fats: 60 percent of your brain is DHA fat which is an omega-3 animal based fat. Therefore, omega-3 fats are important for brain function and mental health. However, individuals usually can't get enough omega-3 fats through diet, so it is important to take supplements.
  • Regulate salt intake: Make sure to regulate your salt intake. Those suffering from a deficiency in their sodium levels can increase their chances of depression. If you need to increase your intake, do it with all-natural salt like Himalayan salt and avoid regular table salt.
  • Do daily exercise: One of the most effective ways to improve your mood is doing exercise. People who do physical activity every day have a positive outlook on life. They are in better physical health and are less likely to suffer from depression.
  • Keep regular sleep: Lacking of sleep can undermine any exercise or diet efforts you make, so it is important to get a good night’s sleep. Depression has been directly linked to people who suffer from sleep disorders.