Do Antidepressants Work?


Quick Answer

According to WebMD, even though The Journal of the American Medical Association published a report stating that antidepressants work best for severe depression cases and have little benefit in mild cases, the answer is not that simple. WebMD states experts claim the report is limited and could easily be misinterpreted by the public as evidence that antidepressants are unnecessary or ineffective.

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Full Answer

The most frequently prescribed antidepressants are in a group called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, according to Mayo Clinic. Unlike some other antidepressants, SSRIs are designed to affect serotonin as opposed to multiple neurotransmitters. Depression is eased when the SSRIs change the balance of serotonin in the brain.

Mayo Clinic states that antidepressants do work for most people but that some may need to try several antidepressant types before finding one that works best. Genetics also has an impact on the effectiveness of antidepressants, and certain blood tests may help predict someone's response to specific medications.

It sometimes takes at least several weeks before antidepressants are effective, and it may take as long for side effects to diminish. Even though the process of trying different antidepressants may be frustrating or even result in worsened symptoms, Mayo Clinic emphasizes the importance of having patience while an individualized treatment plan is established.

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