What happens if you take antidepressants when not depressed?

In this article, we will be discussing the question: what happens if you take antidepressants when not depressed?. We will examine the characteristics and functioning of the brain on the consumption of antidepressants in a non-depressive state, and the common myths, misconceptions, challenges, and risks associated with antidepressants. We will also be addressing other related and relevant queries concerning antidepressants.

What happens if you take antidepressants when not depressed?

Antidepressants, if consumed when not depressed, have the power to alter your brain structure and functioning, in the long run. Research has also proven that a widely consumed antidepressant named sertraline, also called Zoloft, has the power to change your brain architecture if consumed without any symptoms of depression.

These drugs are also commonly used for the treatment of other conditions such as anxiety, hot flushes, bulimia nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, stroke recovery, and sexual dysfunction. 

 It’s been revealed that these drugs have unwanted and unexpected effects. This drug has the power to reduce the volume of two very important brain areas or regions. The first part is the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain which regulates our mood system and the other one is the hippocampus where the registration and consolidation of all our memories take place. 

People who are depressed tend to have smaller volumes in these brain regions when compared to people who are not depressed. However, when non-depressed people consume antidepressants it could end up being counterproductive

Besides, changes in brain structure due to antidepressants are not easy to study because of the presence of several variables that are to be considered. These include sample size, underlying illnesses, types of depression, and treatment plans.

This is revealing the possibility that these drugs have the power to do different things to the brain of those who are not depressed. Though this is nothing to be alarmed about, it needs to be given due to caution and you should be mindful of the reasons for consumption of antidepressants if you are consuming currently or are planning to consume in the future.

Kinds of antidepressants

Antidepressants are popularly used for the treatment of depression. They are also used for other disorders and conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, trauma-related disorders, eating disorders, and such. They operate by how nerve cells communicate inside the brain. Below given are the kinds of antidepressants.

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac and Zoloft.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as efexor and Cymbalta.
  • Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants such as Pamelor and trofanil.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as Parnate and phenelzine.
  • Atypical antidepressants such as bupropion and mirtazapine.

Challenges and risks involved in antidepressants

Taking an antidepressant is not like taking paracetamol or other headache relievers. It is a much more dynamic and complex category of medications that has its challenges and risks. Some of them are given below:

Ineffectiveness with mild cases

Antidepressants won,t work for people with mild depression or mild symptoms of depression. You need to be suffering from moderate or severe depression to consume antidepressants. Only then can a robust difference be noted.

Takes time to work

The effectiveness of antidepressants differs from person to person. Some people respond to it quickly and the benefit can be reaped faster. However, for some people, it takes about four to six weeks for the antidepressants to start working. 

Dosage adjustments

The dosage needs to be given due attention while beginning with antidepressants. Usually, doctors start with a low dosage and gradually increase it depending on the response level of the individual. The dosage cannot be increased or decreased without proper guidance and precautions. The tolerance needs to be built up gradually and well maintained for the continuance of the medication. Sometimes, it takes months for this process to be successful. 

What happens if you take antidepressants when not depressed?

Potential side effects

Some antidepressants can cause serious side effects depending upon its composition and intensity. For instance, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) causes nausea, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, or sleep problems. Also, drugs like Wellbutrin can make anxiety and panic symptoms worsen in some people. 

Abrupt stopping of antidepressants

Disrupting or stopping the dosage of antidepressants suddenly can be dangerous and harmful to one’s well-being. It is sure to cause withdrawal symptoms such as increased depression, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, dizziness, diarrhea, or flu-like symptoms. 

You might believe that temporary consumption of antidepressants will relieve you from facing challenging situations such as a period of grief, extreme stress, or serious illness. However, jumping to the conclusion of taking antidepressants for every minute problem is an unhealthy and undesirable coping mechanism. 

There are no existing researches or studies to prove that taking antidepressants for the short term will be helpful or that it will prevent longer-term consequences of stress such as post-traumatic disorder. 

Depression and antidepressants

If you observe that you are experiencing severe sadness, mood disruptions, or anxiety bouts, the first and foremost thing to do is to talk to someone or if needed you could also opt for professional help from a therapist or counselor. Antidepressants could be an option for treatment but it is not usually the first line of defense. 

Short-term depression is normal, especially during the period of grieving and usually, the suggested coping strategies are to improve your sleep, diet, and exercise patterns. Antidepressants are mostly prescribed for those who suffer from moderate to severe depression and for those who are experiencing a relapse condition. 

However, if someone is seriously distressed and expresses suicidal ideations and there is severe hopelessness lingering around, then one could think of taking antidepressants, even if the depression is relatively short-lived.  

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.

Facts about antidepressants

  • Antidepressants cannot make you forget about your problem. They help in relieving the symptoms of depression make it easier for you to deal with your problems. When you are depressed, your perception gets highly distorted and devoid you of the energy required to face your problems. Therefore, antidepressants help you to regain your energy level to a sufficient amount to be able to deal with your difficulties, paired with psychotherapy.
  • Antidepressants do not cause any issues to your personality structure if consumed in the right manner. In fact, they will help you feel like yourself again and return to your normal functioning. An antidepressant is not a happy pill. If someone who is not depressed consumes antidepressants, it does not magically make them feel happier nor can it alter their normal mood swings. Occasionally, people may experience loss of appetite or apathy while on antidepressants. This can be managed by lowering the dosage. 
  • Antidepressants are never prescribed for a lifetime. When you begin the dosage of antidepressants, for the first time, you will need to take them continuously for four to six months and not necessarily for a lifetime. Once you observe your depression getting under control, you must immediately consult your doctor to discuss when to stop the medication and how to bring down the level of dosage gradually. This is because stopping them suddenly could cause problems such as dizziness and nausea.
  • In most cases, antidepressants come with insurance plans and prescription drug coverage.  The cost of every antidepressant varies, depending upon the dosage, the drug you are taking, and whether it is available in generic form. Even without insurance coverage, it is still possible to buy generic forms of antidepressants.
  • Some antidepressants may affect your sexual health and sex life. The most common problem is with having an orgasm and has got nothing to do with the desire for engaging in sexual activities. However, since depression increases libido, medication for depression will improve your sex life. As with other side effects, some antidepressants are more likely to cause sexual troubles than others, depending upon their dosage and form. 

There are several disputes about whether antidepressants improve or worsen concentration.

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed the question: what happens if you take antidepressants when not depressed? We discussed how the brain’s structure and functions get affected due to the consumption of antidepressants when not depressed and the kinds of antidepressants that are usually prescribed for treatment. Further, we examined the various challenges and risks involved in the consumption of antidepressants and how to go about if you are suffering from severe depression.

Lastly, we also discussed some facts about depression. 

FAQs: what happens if you take antidepressants when not depressed?

Can missing one antidepressant affect you?

While consuming antidepressants, it is important to not miss any of your doses as it can have a serious impact on your treatment regimen. You may also suffer from withdrawal symptoms if you miss a dose of the medicine. In case you miss one of your doses, take it immediately when you remember unless it is nearly time for your next dose. 

Is it normal to have bad days on antidepressants?

During the course of antidepressants, it is normal to experience certain bad days. This is because you may be having a partial response to the drug and if you have residual symptoms, your depression is more likely to return. However, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages of antidepressants. Therefore, people tend to dismiss the symptoms such as little trouble of sleep or slight changes in the usual energy level.

Do antidepressants stop working after a while?

It is possible for the antidepressants you are consuming to stop working or become ineffective after a while. The same medication which worked wonders earlier might not be working properly at a given point in time. This is bound to happen especially if you have been consuming it for longer periods. Most people suffer from a condition called breakthrough depression wherein thirty-three percentage of the symptoms reoccur due to the ineffectiveness of the antidepressants.

Will antidepressants make me happy?

Antidepressants are prescribed to help you gain relief front the symptoms of depression and associated anxiety. They do not help to make you extremely happy or euphoric. instead, they aid you to act more realistically in emotionally overwhelming situations. For instance, you may notice that you take little interest or tend to worry about matters that used to make you anxious during earlier times. 

Do antidepressants make you fat?

Yes. antidepressants could make you gain weight in the long run. It is one of the most known side-effects associated with the intake of antidepressants. Also, this weight gain differs from person to person. It depends on the physiology of an individual and other related factors. Two different individuals react differently to an antidepressant. Some might gain weight, while some others won’t experience any change in their weight gain. 

Do antidepressants increase concentration?

When you consume antidepressants, it works by balancing chemicals in your brain, called neurotransmitters that affect your mood swings and emotions. Therefore, these medications will help improve your mood and gain better sleep. This, in turn, will automatically increase your appetite and concentration. You will gain more energy to invest effort in focusing on things and be able to retain it at a later time. 

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

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.

References

https://med.unsw.edu.au/news-events/news/what-antidepressants-can-do-brain-not-depressed#:~:text=There%20is%20new%20reason%20to,The%20drug%20is%20sertraline.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/should-you-use-an-antidepressant-to-get-through-a-difficult-time

https://www.webmd.com/depression/fears-and-facts-about-antidepressants#1

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