Every drug, because it is an artificially produced combination of chemicals not found in nature, produces side effects. Not all prescription drug side effects are serious, and not all people will experience the same side effects from the same drugs. Some prescription drug side effects, in fact, have proven beneficial enough that they become selling points for the drugs.
But as far as antidepressant side effects are concerned, the news has been, for the most part, somewhat alarming. Antidepressants are more widely prescribed than ever, and are now used to treat anxiety disorders as well as clinical depression, and antidepressant side effects are affecting an enormous number of people.
Because none of the three classes of anti-depressants–SSRIs, MOIAs, and TCAs–has proven more beneficial in treating depression then the other two, doctors will often prescribe them not on the basis of their effectiveness but on the basis of their antidepressant side effects. For more info see https://mental-health-matters.com/depression/ on About Depression.
SSRI Side Effects
When the SSRIs, or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, first became available, they were hailed as a breakthrough in the treatment of depression. Believed to have far fewer antidepressant side effects than either MOIA or TCAs, they quickly became the depression medication of choice among doctors.
One of their apparent virtues was their lack of toxicity; TCAs, or tricyclics are extremely toxic to both the central nervous and cardiovascular systems when taken in excess. Tricyclics antidepressant side effects are of such concern, in fact, that they are use is generally discontinued after three months. Elavil, Tofranin, and Norpramin are among the better-known TCAs.
But after SSRIs had been available for a while, their antidepressant side effects began to surface, and they were not pretty. One serious one was their effect on may of their users’ sexual performances, which ranged from erectile dysfunction, to becoming aroused when they yawned, to a complete loss of libido.
Other of their side effects were insomnia and weight gain, but by far the most alarming was the increased rate of suicide or aggressive behavior among SSRI users below the age of 25. In 2006, in fact, the FDA recommended that “black box” warnings be placed on all SSRIs warning of that risk.
MAOI Side Effects
The antidepressant side effects of the third family of depression medications, the MAOIs, make them the least prescribed. MAOIs, because they block the action of the brain enzyme monoamine oxidase, which helps control blood pressure, can cause sudden severe blood pressure spikes and even strokes or death.