The effects of antidepressants on the brain are different. An antidepressant drug stimulates physiological changes in the brain that affect the improvement of the mood. These changes are due to the chemical action of drugs and have a limited duration. Furthermore, they are not exempt from undesirable effects not yet fully understood.
We can say that depression is now almost a pandemic. The reported cases increase from year to year and are underestimated, because not all those who suffer from this condition undergo medical consultation. We know, however, that the consumption of antidepressants around the world has increased, which is why it is important to know the effects of antidepressants on the brain.
Moreover, it must be said that psychiatric drugs are not the only tool to solve the problem, as they regulate the symptoms of the disorder in the brain, but do not eliminate it. In other words, they doze off depression, but they don’t cure it.
Following this, there are treatments exclusively focused on the psychological aspect, as well as alternative interventions such as those offered by psychoanalysis or meditation.
The action of antidepressants on the brain
Talking about antidepressants means talking about a wide range of drugs : classic tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
Let’s see each of them in detail:
- Classic tricyclics. They are the most common, consisting of a seven-element molecule and a three-element terminal nitrogen. They stimulate the production of serotonin, they do not inhibit its reuptake. They cause several unwanted effects.
- SSRI. They increase serotonin levels and prevent it from being re-taken or reabsorbed by the body. On the surface they are safer, although Prozac, the drug par excellence among them, has been heavily criticized by some scientists.
- SNRI. Considered the most effective They have the advantage of not inducing a state of sedation. However, these antidepressants sometimes cause tremors, changes in appetite, and other symptoms.
According to most scientists, antidepressants do not cause physical addiction, but they can cause psychological addiction. There are several studies in which a particularly harmful effect of these drugs has been observed, especially following prolonged consumption, exceeding five years.
A responsible psychiatrist prescribes drugs as temporary support, not as a condition on which the patient’s life will depend.
Other approaches to depression
Although an antidepressant helps to keep the mood relatively stable, it does not solve the main problem. It is possible to recover from depression, but not by taking pills indefinitely.
Traditional treatment for this disorder involves a joint pharmacological and psychotherapeutic intervention. Medicines are only temporary help.
They calm the symptoms and prepare for psychotherapy. Human beings are not only a body from a biological point of view, but also symbolic beings.
This means that neurotransmitters condition our mood in order to allow us to interpret and make sense of our experiences. No pill gives meaning to our life. The latter is defined only following paths that allow us to reinterpret and build new meanings.
The effects of antidepressants and alternative approaches
From a psychoanalytical point of view, depression is not a clinical entity in itself, but depends on a precise perspective on reality. Jacques Lacan spoke of depression as a manifestation of “moral cowardice”. The effect of “yielding to desire”, that is, of not affirming being. The individual does not take full responsibility for his life and actions.
According to Eastern philosophies, depression is the result of extreme attachments. The emphasis is on the outside world, on which one depends. That addiction, in turn, induces fear and denial of transience. This is one of the possible explanations for depression.
Some studies tell us that psychotherapies, psychoanalysis and meditation can produce drug-like effects. The action of an antidepressant on the brain is almost immediate and has a short duration.
Psychotherapy requires more effort from the patient and is slower. Nonetheless, it is free of side effects, gives the patient back control over their life and focuses on the root of the problem.