Depression is a state of mind where one is constantly “living in an infinite black hole” where feelings of despair, gloom and sadness take a hold on life. Every normal human being feels downcast and sad during the course of misfortunes of life. However, if this frame of mind does not change even after a long period and you tend to remain in the blues, then it is time to raise an alarm. You need to consult your physician and check if it is a case of depression. In the fast paced and stressful life of today, the number of depression cases has increased sizably. Medical science has developed psychotherapy and medication as two primary approaches for its treatment but ironically, even these depression medications are ‘Pandora’s boxes’ with numerous side effects. In fact, some of the side effects of antidepressants are as bad as depression itself. It is therefore important to prevention rather than to opt for cures and stay away from depression medication to avoid the array of its ill effects. 

Antidepressants Side Effects 

SSRIs, or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, avoid the joining of serotonin to its receptors and hence impact the serotonin levels in the human brain. Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil are some of the commonly used SSRI drugs. The side effects of this class of drugs include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Apathy
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Impairment of the kidneys, liver and urinary tract
  • Increased risk of bone fracture
  • Increased depression or anxiety
  • Increased suicide risk
  • Tremors
  • Headaches
  • Restlessness
  • Increased sensitivity to sun exposure
  • Changes in sweating pattern
  • Long-term side effects of sexual dysfunction long after the medication has been stopped

MAOIs, or Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors, such as Parnate, Nardil, Marplan and Emsam are prescribed only after all other antidepressants fail to react on the patient. So obviously the side effects of these drugs are more severe and life-threatening. These include:

  • Weight gain
  • Appetite problems
  • Stomach upset
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • High blood pressure
  • Changed or uneven heart rhythms
  • Muscle twitching and restlessness

SNRIs, or Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors, impact the functioning of the neurotransmitters and hence aid in reducing depression. Desvenlafaxine, Venlafaxine and Duloxetine are some of the most commonly used SNRIs. The side effects caused by the use of this class of drugs include:

  • Abnormal dreams
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Body weakness
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Drowsiness, fatigue, or weakness
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Increased sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Sexual problems, including decreased sex drive (libido), ejaculation problems, impotence (erectile dysfunction or ED), or orgasm problems in women
  • Shakiness (tremor)
  • Vision changes

Tricyclic and Tetracyclic Antidepressants
These drugs have a higher tendency to cause a range of side effects and are thus less preferred. Surmontil, Tofranil, Pamelor and Sinequan are some of the drugs that belong to this class and lead to side effects like:

  • Major digestive problems
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Tremors and sweating
  • Inability to urinate (urinary retention)
  • Sexual problems
  • Confusion or delirium, in elderly patients
  • Fatigue

Atypical Antidepressants
As the name suggests, these drugs do not fall into any particular class of drugs. Mirtazapine, Trazodone, Bupropion and Nefazodone are the common medication names that are termed as atypical antidepressants. The side effects of these drugs are comparatively less severe than other antidepressants’ class. However, their most common side effects include:

  • Weight loss or gain
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nervousness or confusion
  • Allergic reactions
  • Heart palpitations
  • Seizures
  • Blurred vision
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Increased sweating
  • Liver problems