Antidepressants are a remarkably diverse group of medications. Most work on serotonin, some do not work on serotonin at all. Because there are different types of antidepressants, they all have different side effects.
• Not addictive. We can only get addicted to something that gives us a high. Antidepressants can only make you feel “normal”/ not depressed, but they cannot make you feel high.
• Does not give you a high- as mentioned above. Therefore drug dealers do not sell antidepressants!
• Safe. The side effects are more bothersome than dangerous. Many years ago, antidepressants were dangerous, and patients had bad side effects like drooling and walking like zombies- luckily, this is not the case anymore.
• Side effects can differ from patient to patient. The different types of antidepressants also have different side effects. So, try different ones until you find the one that works best for you (with your doctor’s help of course)
• Effects can differ from patient to patient. We do not know yet why this is, but this is the reason there are many different antidepressants on the market.
• Antidepressants can be stopped. Some have a short half-life (Venlafaxine XR and Paroxetine in particular). This means they are more difficult to stop- but it is certainly possible, you just need to know how.
• Price can differ, but more expensive does not mean better. For R100 per month (this is less than $10) you can get a very decent antidepressant.
• Chronic medication/ medical aids- it is complicated. Talk to your doctor- or even better- try to get a list of the antidepressants your medical aid will approve.
• How long to take an antidepressant? This will differ for each patient. The short answer is six months to a year.