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What are the real risks of antidepressants?

Though common in use, SSRIs are not without their side effects. These antidepressants — fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), fluvoxamine (Luvox), citalopram (Celexa), and escitalopram (Lexapro) — are among the world's most widely prescribed medications. The range of their uses has expanded from depression to anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and many other psychiatric conditions. These types of antidepressants are generally safe, but no medical treatment is without risk. SSRI antidepressant side effects Some patients taking SSRIs develop insomnia, skin rashes, headaches, joint and muscle pain, stomach upset, nausea, or diarrhea....

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Seasonal affective disorder

In the northern and southern regions of the world, winter means shorter days and longer nights. This seasonal shift, and the lack of sunlight that goes along with it, can trigger a type of depression known as seasonal affective disorder. People with seasonal affective disorder, sometimes known as the winter blues, begin to experience sadness, depression, and fatigue in the late fall; symptoms fade away in the spring. Women tend to develop seasonal affective disorder more than men. The condition often begins in the third or...

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3 health strategies to help you get through the holidays

Plan now to help prevent overeating, trips to the hospital, and depression. The winter holidays are supposed to be a joyous time, filled with celebration. But they come with health risks, such as loneliness and depression, overeating, weight gain, falls in icy weather, foodborne illness, and heart problems. Here are ways to protect yourself while enjoying the season. 1. Avoid the blues Even though the holidays are often happy, they sometimes trigger loneliness, sadness, and a general feeling of the blues. "You may be missing family members and friends who...

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Treating depression after a heart attack

Surviving a heart attack is cause for celebration. It's also a trigger for depression. Up to half of heart attack survivors get the blues, and many go on to develop clinical depression. Early experiences with antidepressants weren't that promising because older tricyclic drugs such as clomipramine and nortriptyline sometimes threw off heart rhythms and further endangered the heart. This made doctors leery about recommending antidepressants, even when selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac (fluoxetine), and Zoloft (sertraline), and others came along. However, a small study published...

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Alternative medicine for depression

Only about 40% of people with major depression receive adequate conventional treatment, so it's important to get a better understanding of the other measures depressed patients are taking. A survey of American women indicates that a high proportion of them use alternative and complementary medicines for depression. more than 3,000 women, with Mexican Americans, Chinese Americans, and African Americans somewhat over-represented in order to get a picture of ethnic differences. Of these women, 220 said they had been medically diagnosed with depression in the previous year,...

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From street drug to depression therapy

Ketamine offers a new option for people with stubborn depression that doesn't respond to other medications. Many people know of ketamine as a hallucinogenic and addictive street drug, which, when abused, can put people in medical peril. But today, doctors are increasingly looking to ketamine as a potentially lifesaving treatment for people with severe, treatment-resistant depression, who may be at high risk for suicide. "Ketamine has been shown to be effective in people who have not responded to antidepressant treatment,". The fast-acting treatment has shown promise — sometimes...

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An underused option for severe depression

A new study supports the use of noninvasive brain stimulation in people with severe depression who haven't responded to medication. If medication isn't helping to ease severe depression, nonsurgical brain stimulation may be an effective alternative to consider, according to a study published online March 27 by The BMJ. Specifically, the study found that evidence seems to back the use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) over other, newer brain stimulation therapies. "Many psychiatrists are unaware of these techniques, or at least don't think to...

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Six common depression types

Ongoing mood, cognitive changes may require professional help Depression is not only hard to endure, it is also a risk factor for heart disease and dementia. "Depressive symptoms can occur in adults for many reasons. If you are experiencing mood or cognitive changes that last for more than a few weeks, it's a good idea to bring this up with your doctor or consult a mental health specialist to help sort out possible causes,"  The four most common types of depression are major depression, persistent depressive disorder (formerly...

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Anxiety disorders

Anxiety symptoms that are frequent or severe enough to disrupt your life can still be successfully treated. You've probably had anxiety symptoms—a thumping heart, rapid breathing, and feelings of apprehension and fear. You might have felt anxious before an important event or a major medical procedure. "Some degree of anxiety is normal and even necessary. Anxiety signals us that something is awry or might need our attention. However, you don't want the response to become exaggerated or to dominate your life,"  If you often feel anxious...

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When the arrival of menopause brings symptoms of depression

A new study suggests that hormone therapy might help with perimenopausal depression. But is it safe for you? Hormone therapy has long been a controversial topic, and a new study about the role of hormones in depression is adding some fodder to the debate. A study published in the January 10 issue of JAMA Psychiatry determined that hormone therapy may help ward off symptoms of depression in women. Researchers found that perimenopausal and early postmenopausal women who were treated with hormones were less likely to experience symptoms of...

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