Side Effects when Taking Antidepressants

All medications, including antidepressants, can give undesirable negative effects. Such symptoms caused by the drug are called “side effects”.

Some of these side effects can be almost imperceptible, while others, on the contrary, can only complicate the life of a person suffering from depression. In rare cases, antidepressants can cause severe negative effects that require urgent treatment.

If you are taking antidepressants and begin to notice problems associated with side effects, you need to urgently contact your doctor or psychiatrist, so that they can offer you suitable solutions to combat these negative effects, or change your medication to minimize the consequences for you or make them easier for you to tolerate.

Consult your Doctor

In no case should you stop taking or reduce the dosage of prescribed antidepressants yourself without first consulting your doctor or a specialist who prescribed you medications. If you rely only on yourself, you may experience a number of symptoms known as ”withdrawal syndrome” or withdrawal , precisely because of the abrupt and ill-considered discontinuation of the drug. These symptoms include symptoms such as cramps, itching, nightmares, hallucinations, sweating, muscle aches, blurred vision, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, abdominal pain and weakness.

It is strongly and categorically recommended to reduce the dosage of antidepressants very slowly under the supervision of a specialist. This will give your brain time to get used to the changes, and you will notice fewer effects if a specialist adjusts your treatment plan.

Most Common Side Effects of Antidepressants

Some of the most common side effects in most patients taking antidepressants include: nausea, weakness, blurred vision, side effects in the sexual sphere (such as lack of attraction or problems related to arousal), anxiety, weight gain, constipation, insomnia, dry lips, vomiting, numbness and anxiety.

Your doctor will be able to offer you strategies to overcome many of these side effects correctly. You can also change the dosage or schedule of medication, add another treatment to relieve a certain side effect, or, among other things, switch to another drug, which you will tolerate more easily. Therefore, it is so important first of all to consult with your doctor about any adverse symptoms.

Nevertheless, we will present some tips that can help you reduce certain adverse effects.

Some antidepressants, the so-called “tricyclics” and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI), can cause low blood pressure and, as a result, provoke nausea. To alleviate this condition, you should avoid sudden changes of position (if you are lying down, get up slowly), do not use caffeine, tobacco and alcohol, drink enough liquid.

Weakness is another undesirable effect, often occurring in the first weeks of treatment with antidepressants. Give yourself a rest during the day and go for a walk, this should help.

Dry lips are also associated with taking many antidepressants. It is necessary not to use tobacco, alcohol and caffeine, as well as breathe less through your mouth, because all this can significantly enhance the side effect. Also, sucking on an ice cube, drinking water regularly and chewing sugar-free gum can help you.

Some antidepressants also cause side effects in sexual life, for example, a decrease in sexual desire, difficulty in achieving orgasm or erection. From this point of view, it is necessary to discuss the changes with your partner and try to adjust your sex life.

Some antidepressants also cause side effects in sexual life, for example, a decrease in sexual desire, difficulty in achieving orgasm or erection. From this point of view, it is necessary to discuss the changes with your partner and try to adjust your sex life.

Weight gain that is sometimes observed after starting treatment with antidepressants, may have several causes: lack of physical activity, increased appetite due to improved symptoms of depression, or, among other things, increased fluid retention. In this case, you need to follow a healthy and balanced diet, avoiding sugar consumption, this is key to weight control.

Tricyclic antidepressants sometimes cause constipation due to the slowing down of the digestive system. Drink more water, eat fiber-rich foods, and exercise regularly

Severe Side Effects from Antidepressants

Many of the most common side effects of antidepressants are not grounds for much concern. But at the same time, there are some much less common, but more severe effects that need to be kept in mind. These include:

  • Serotonin Syndrome

This side effect is associated with the use of antidepressants called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Serotonin syndrome occurs when a neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin reaches very high levels. As a rule, this happens when a drug such as SSRIs or SNRIs is used in combination with another drug that also affects serotonin levels, for example, another antidepressant.

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include confusion, anxiety, muscle cramps, chills, and even diarrhea. In addition, in the most severe cases, there may be symptoms such as severe fever, convulsions, palpitations and loss of consciousness.

If a person has any of the above symptoms, it is urgent to call an ambulance, because this condition is life-threatening.

  • Hyponatremia

Hyponatremia is an ailment that occurs when the levels of sodium or salt in the patient’s blood drop to extremely low levels. If this happens, a dangerous amount of fluid can accumulate inside the cells of the body. This side effect usually occurs from drugs such as SSRIs, since such drugs can change the effect of one of the hormones involved in regulating the levels of sodium and fluids inside the body. From this point of view, older persons may be particularly predisposed to hyponatremia.

Less severe cases of hyponatremia may be accompanied by symptoms such as general malaise, headache, muscle pain, loss of appetite and confusion. In more severe cases, people may also experience symptoms such as apathy and

fatigue, disorientation, anxiety, psychosis and convulsions. In addition, hyponatremia in many cases can lead to coma or death.

People, who suffer from even minor symptoms of hyponatremia, must seek emergency medical care.

  • Suicidal Thoughts

After the first discontinuation of antidepressants, there may be a temporary aggravation of depression up to stirring up of suicidal thoughts.

If you notice signs of worsening depression for yourself or for someone close to you, accompanied by such suicidal thoughts or thoughts about death, or unusual changes in behavior during the first weeks after starting treatment with antidepressants, it is important to contact and receive emergency medical or psychiatric help.

  • Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions can occur from any medications, including antidepressants, because a person may be allergic to the active ingredients of the medicine, to coloring agents, other inactive fillers present in the tablet.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include swelling, skin rashes and itching, hives, blisters, or difficulty breathing.

Severe allergic reactions pose a problem since they can threaten the patient’s life by obstructing respiratory function. It is strongly recommended to seek medical aid if you experience face swelling or have difficulty breathing.

  • Mania emerging in association with taking antidepressants

In people suffering from bipolar disorder, medications like antidepressants can lead to episodic manic manifestations.

Symptoms include excessive energy and activity, sleep problems, acceleration of thoughts, impulsive behavior, unnatural mood elevation, irritability and accelerated speech.

Despite the fact that manic manifestations do not necessarily pose a threat to life, nevertheless, the intervention of a specialist is necessary for their treatment.

  • Convulsions

Some antidepressants may increase the risk of convulsions, as in the case of the oldest antidepressants known as “tricyclics”. In general,

newer antidepressants carry fewer risks of spasms of this kind.

Convulsions include symptoms such as sudden movements of the arms and legs, confusion and loss of consciousness. You must notify your attending physician about any manifestations of convulsions. In fact, at the first manifestations of convulsions in a person, it is necessary to immediately call an ambulance.

Side Effects of Antidepressants and Genetics

In recent decades, many studies have been published demonstrating the relationship between genes and the effectiveness of antidepressants, as well as the development of adverse effects. From this point of view, your genetic profile will help determine to some extent which antidepressant will suit you best.

There are genetic tests with proven clinical benefits that will help to choose an antidepressant. After the correct diagnosis is made by the attending physician, the use of such tests can simplify the selection of treatment that is right for you, in the fastest and safest way.