In this brief guide, we will discuss what happens if you take antidepressants without depression and some other information about this medication and the effect it has on the brain, as well as basic facts about antidepressants.
What happens if you take antidepressants without depression?
If you take antidepressants without depression then there may be long term changes to your anterior cingulate cortex, which regulates emotion, and the hippocampus, which is responsible for memories.
Aside from these long term changes, you may not see any major short term problem, as antidepressants are made for people who have chemical imbalances in their brains.
You may also think that it may be a preventive measure to take antidepressants without depression, but that is not how it seems to work, as antidepressants work in a very different manner to treat depression, and have no preventive value whatsoever as yet.
In addition, antidepressants have been shown to have some very adverse effects if they are taken without depression or when you are not suffering from a depressive disorder.
A common side effect of antidepressants is obesity as well, so if you try to take antidepressants without depression you may find yourself getting obese.
It may also affect your brain in some harmful ways as it affects the neurotransmitters that manage emotions and hormones in the brain and whose imbalance leads to depressive disorder.
What are SSRI’s?
SSRI is an abbreviation for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and which is a commonly employed class of drugs in the treatment of depression.
These are a class of drugs that work specifically on serotonin neurotransmitters.
SSRI antidepressants are a class of antidepressants that increase the levels of serotonin in the brain.
Serotonin is a common neurotransmitter on the brain that is often referred to as the “feel-good hormone”.
Serotonin carries messages between brain cells, or neurons, and contributes to general feelings of well-being, pleasant mood, appetite, and also helps to regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle, which is also known as the circadian rhythm, and the internal clock.
SSRIs, the class od antidepressants most used by doctors to treat depression, increase levels of serotonin in the brain by preventing the reuptake, or pick-up, of serotonin by nerves.
When more serotonin is available in the nerve synapse it can transmit messages even easier.
All SSRI antidepressants are assumed to work in this way.
What other kinds of antidepressants are there?
Some other kinds of Antidepressants that relieve the symptoms of depression are:
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- Atypical antidepressants.
What antidepressants can do to a brain that is not depressed
Antidepressants are a great thing for people who are depressed, as they have an imbalance of serotonin in their brains, and antidepressants, no matter what class they belong to, affect this particular neurotransmitter in some way or another.
It, therefore, makes sense that in a brain that has normal levels of serotonin, these medications will have some different effects.
Recent research involving monkeys showed that SSRI antidepressants, in particular, may make permanent changes to the brain architecture if taken by those who aren’t really depressed and have normal levels of serotonin in their brains.
This provides a whole new reason to stay away from using popular antidepressants if you are not really depressed, in addition to the risk of side effects that already exist.
The drug used in the study was Sertraline.
You may commonly know it as Zoloft and it is available in other generic forms throughout the world.
Scientists have often debated the effects of antidepressants on the structure of the brain.
It is universally accepted that the changes antidepressants induce in a depressed brain, that is, one that is lacking in the appropriate levels of serotonin, are advantageous.
However, researchers wanted to find out what happens in the brains of those who are not depressed, or have the normal amounts of serotonin present for optimal functioning.
The reason behind this particular query was that these drugs are also commonly used for other conditions such as anxiety, bulimia, hot flushes, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, stroke recovery, and sexual dysfunction, and if they change brain chemistry and structure so drastically maybe it would be beneficial to see about changing this practice.
This study was published in a journal called Neuropharmacology.
The results revealed that antidepressants lowered the volume of two very important regions of the brain.
The first brain structure they found altered was the anterior cingulate cortex, the structure in the brain that controls and regulates mood, and ensures the sense of well-being.
The other part that was affected badly was the hippocampus, which is very important due to the role it plays in memory-related functions, as well as the association of memory to experience and emotion.
The authors of this study realized that that people with depression have been noted as having smaller volumes of these two regions when compared to people without depression.
Sertraline, the drug used in this study, is an SSRI, or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, and researchers say that even the other drugs in this class work according to the same mechanism and chemistry and would probably do the same thing to these two important brain structures.
It is estimated that most people who are depressed and who are using antidepressants, most would be taking an SSRI.
Consumption of antidepressants is very high in the world, and it is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the world.
Misconceptions and truths about antidepressants
Here are some commonly held misconceptions about antidepressants.
Apart from psychotherapy, antidepressants, especially SSRI’s, are a common treatment for depression.
Most people are prescribed antidepressants that are to be taken in conjunction with psychotherapy.
However many people have reservations about antidepressants due to the general fear related to medication, to begin with.
Presented below are some common myths and misconceptions related to antidepressants, along with the true facts about antidepressants that make them safe to take if you are experiencing depression.
Misconception: Antidepressants make you forget your issues while they still exist and you don’t have to face them.
Truth: Antidepressants do not make you forget your deep-seated issues.
What they do is make it somewhat easier for you to deal with problems.
Someone experiencing depression may feel like their perception is distorted and their problems and it may feel like they are drained and do not have the energy to deal with the problems, but antidepressants help with this symptom.
Also, most psychotherapists say that when their patients are taking antidepressants, it helps them make more progress in psychotherapy, as their mind I clearer and they have the energy to face their problems.
Misconception: Antidepressants make you a zombie and change your personality forever.
Truth: No, antidepressants, when taken correctly, do not turn you into a zombie or alter your personality.
They can however help you feel like yourself again and help you get back to your previous level of functioning.
But it is also important to remember that someone when you take antidepressants without depression, it does not just miraculously make you happier, as it is not a happy pill or magic drug.
It works on people with depression due to their changed brain chemistry.
Another common fear is that people start being apathetic, but people rarely experience apathy or loss of emotions while taking antidepressants, in reality.
Even if this does happen to someone, they can just look into lowering the dose or switching to a different antidepressant.
Misconception: Antidepressants will make me gain weight and make me obese.
Truth: Antidepressants have side effects too, it is a well-known fact, but would you not take antibiotics for the same reason when you are sick? No, you need to take them to get better.
Same with antidepressants. Studies have shown that they may make you gain weight sometimes, but that is also a factor of the fact that they increase your appetite, and people with depression find it hard to function too normally right away.
They might not be able to exercise very much due to the low mood they may be experiencing, and need to eat more due to the medication.
For this reason, almost any doctor will tell someone they are giving antidepressants to ensure that they get plenty of exercise.
Some antidepressants may actually make you lose weight, but if this happens the doctor should be consulted right away as this may be a symptom of a serious problem.
Misconception: Antidepressants need to be taken for the rest of a person’s life.
Truth: for most people taking antidepressants for a first-time episode of depression, there is only a need to take them continuously for six to nine months, and the period is never for the entire lifetime.
Depression is under control, one needs to work with their doctor to figure out when they can stop the antidepressant course which usually begins by decreasing the dose gradually.
One should make sure to never just stop them suddenly, on their own, if they feel the symptoms reducing, as doing this can lead to major symptoms.
Suddenly stopping antibiotics can lead to problems like headaches, dizziness, and nausea and even make the depression return.
Can I take antidepressants to prevent depression?
Antidepressants are not a preventive measure.
They are supposed to work after the serotonin balance in the brain has already started to malfunction and needs to be corrected.
If antidepressants are taken before this happens, they can cause serious damage to the brain that may not be reversible.
Some people may be concerned that due to their family history they are at risk for developing depression, so maybe they could take antidepressants to prevent it?
Researchers are currently studying a new use for antidepressants: to prevent depression in people who may not necessarily have experienced it before.
However, it has not been proven yet, and in the meantime taking antidepressants on your own is not a good idea, as it is a powerful medication and can harm you adversely.
If you are extremely concerned that you are at risk, talk to your doctor and maybe they can refer you to a psychotherapist instead so that you can better eliminate your chances of getting depressed without putting your body through side effects.
In this brief guide, we discussed what happens if you take antidepressants without depression and some other information about this medication, as well as the effect it has on the brain, and basic facts about antidepressants. Please feel free to reach w=out with any questions or comments.
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s): What happens if you take antidepressants without depression?
What happens if you take antidepressants when not depressed?
When you take antidepressants when not depressed, it can lead to changes in your brain structure and cause unpleasant side effects as well.
Do Antidepressants Make You have no emotions?
Antidepressants cannot make you have no emotions, but they do alter the experience of emotions in order to bring you out of depression.
However, if it feels like you are lethargic and your emotions are not changing for the better, talk to your doctor about reducing the dose as this can help.
Is it possible to have no side effects from antidepressants?
Yes, it is possible to have no side effects from antidepressants if they are taken responsibly and after discussions with a doctor.
SSRIs have fewer bothersome side effects as well.
Is depression a side effect of antidepressants?
No depression is not a side effect of antidepressants, however, antidepressants can cause side effects such as mild nausea and increased appetite, weight gain, loss of sexual desire, and problems such as erectile dysfunction and achieving orgasm.
Do antidepressants mess up your brain?
Yes, antidepressants can mess up your brain if you take them without depression.
Research has shown that antidepressants can shrink connections between neurons if someone is not depressed and still taking antidepressants.
What we recommend for depression
If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.