Countless types of depression exist, and people experience this illness to varying degrees of severity. For some, non-pharmacological interventions are able to improve symptoms, but others require some form of medicines for depression. In the past, antidepressants have been the most popular depression treatment available, and while they cannot cure depression, they can reduce symptoms in people. An alternative for traditional antidepressant medications is ketamine therapy, which is growing in popularity and becoming a widely used treatment option for depression.

Over the years, research has found that brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are associated with depression. These neurotransmitters are serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Antidepressants target these neurotransmitters in different ways depending on the type and class of antidepressants.

1. SSRIs

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are medications that most doctors start off prescribing for depression treatment. These medications generally have fewer side effects and are less likely to cause problems at high doses. This class of drugs works by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is often referred to as the “feel-good hormone.” Examples of these medications are Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft.

2. SNRIs

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are antidepressants that help relieve depression symptoms such as irritability and sadness, but are also used for anxiety disorders. Unlike SSRIs, SNRIs block the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Some people may not experience side effects, but if they do, the side effects are usually mild and go away after the first few weeks. Examples of these medicines for depression are Cymbalta, Effexor, and Pristiq.

3. Other Drug Classes

Atypical antidepressants and other medicines for depression do not neatly fit into one of the above classes of antidepressants. These are unique medications that work in different ways but they still affect changes in brain chemistry to help regulate mood and relieve depression symptoms. They come with varying side effects due to their different characteristics. Some commonly prescribed medications in this category are Wellbutrin, Tofranil, and MAOIs such as Nardil.

4. Ketamine for Depression

Ketamine therapy has developed recently out of the necessity to treat individuals that do not respond to antidepressant medications. Ketamine also promotes an increase in a neurotransmitter–in this case, glutamate. Glutamate is the most prominent neurotransmitter in the nervous system and increasing it helps to form new connections that may have been damaged due to depression. Unlike antidepressants that can take a long time to work, ketamine can provide relief from depression symptoms almost immediately.

Vitalitas Denver, a leading ketamine treatment center, has a psychiatric nurse practitioner on staff who can help you determine the best options for major depressive disorder treatment, whether it be ketamine infusions or a combination of traditional depression treatments. If you or a loved one is suffering from debilitating depression, there’s no reason to delay. Contact us, or complete the brief form below and take the first step towards mental health and wellness.

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