Comorbid Conditions Resulting From Depression Treatment

 

Depression is increasingly becoming a common cause of disability in developed countries. Unlike other chronic conditions that develop with advanced age, depression is both an episodic and recurrent mental disorder that affects adults with an early onset. As such, it requires long-term treatment and monitoring. Physicians typically prescribe antidepressants to patients with severe depression. Coupled with talk therapy, these medications are effective in relieving symptoms.

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Unfortunately, since antidepressants alter the balance of various body chemicals, they often cause side effects. Individual responses to antidepressants vary, hence the difference in side effects experienced. Genetic makeup and pre-existing health conditions affect how the body responds to these drugs. Below are some of the comorbid conditions resulting from these medications.

 

1. Suicidal Thoughts

As you start your antidepressant medications, be wary of the temporary worsening of depression and potential thoughts of suicide. Several studies have confirmed that this is true and common for patients under 25 years. Most patients experience these side effects in the first weeks of taking antidepressants. As such, if you have such thoughts after starting your medication, you should seek medical intervention immediately.

 

How to cope with antidepressant side effects
Tips to Cope With Side Effects of Antidepressants

 

This probably explains why the FDA ordered antidepressants drugs manufacturers to have package inserts indicating that adolescents and young adults with psychiatric disorders and major depressions are at high risk of suicidal thoughts. Fortunately, minimal risks have been reported in old patients aged 65 and above.

 

2. Seizures

Specific antidepressant medications can increase the risk of developing a seizure. In some situations, seizures can occur in patients who have never experienced seizures before. Though most antidepressants don’t increase the risk of seizures, bupropion or Wellbutrin is a common antidepressant drug that can trigger one. Traditional antidepressants, such as tricyclics, potentially increase the risks of seizures as well. However, new-generation antidepressants are less likely to cause seizures.

Most patients who have never experienced seizures may not actually realize these symptoms. Seizures resulting from antidepressants involve uncontrollable jerking movements of legs and arms, confusion, staring spells, abnormal sensations, and in some patients, loss of consciousness.

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3. Mania

Antidepressants can potentially trigger episodes of mania in patients with bipolar disorders. Bipolar disorder involves brief episodes of both hypomania and depression. Common symptoms of mania include sleeping difficulties, hyperactivity, grandiose thinking, extreme mood elevation, irritability, pressured speech, and racing thoughts. While mania is not life-threatening, prolonged episodes require medical attention for the readjustment of antidepressants.

 

4. Serotonin Syndrome

Serotonin syndrome is among the common comorbid conditions resulting from prolonged intake of depression drugs. As the name suggests, the syndrome occurs when serotonin, an essential brain neurotransmitter, is extremely high. The condition is common for patients using a combination of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors with another medication affecting serotonin levels in the brain.

Common combined antidepressant drugs that can cause serotonin syndrome include SSRIs, SNRIs, Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, and other depression agents such as nefazodone, trazodone, Viibryd, and Trintellix. Common symptoms of this comorbid condition include sweating, shivering, diarrhea, confusion, muscle twitching, and agitation.

 

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Finding the Right Antidepressant

 

5. Hyponatremia

This comorbid condition from depression drugs results in abnormally low sodium or salt levels in the blood. When such occurs, the body absorbs excessive amounts of fluid in the cells. These are effects of SSRIs, as these medications can hinder the proper functioning of the hormone responsible for sodium and fluid reuptake in the body. Hyponatremia often affects old patients.

Patients with mild symptoms of Hyponatremia often report confusion, headache, loss of appetite, and muscle pain. In severe cases, patients can experience disorientation, psychosis, seizures, fatigue, and agitation. This is a serious condition, as it can cause coma and a resultant death in depressed patients.

 

6. Sexual Problems

Patients on antidepressants also suffer from a lack of sexual desires or decreased ability to orgasm. While this can be reversed by stopping the medication, physicians often prefer prescribing a different antidepressant or combining them with drugs to treat erectile dysfunction. Patients shouldn’t stop taking the medications as it can worsen the symptoms of depression.

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7. Allergic Reactions

Allergies resulting from antidepressants can occur for many reasons. Common allergies occur if the patient is allergic to one of the medication’s active ingredients or allergic to fillers, dyes, and other non-active ingredients. Like other allergic reactions, symptoms of allergies include itchy rashes, blisters, difficulty in breathing, and swelling.

 

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Different patients react differently to depression drugs. If you develop either of these conditions, you might have to try different antidepressants to find one that suits your body. Regardless of the resulting comorbid condition, you shouldn’t stop taking your medications without consulting your doctor.

Your physician will likely recommend that you taper off the antidepressants slowly, enabling the brain to adjust to the changes. If you experience such side effects with your medication, schedule an appointment with EzCare Clinic for consultations.

 

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