Let us know a bit about antidepressants before moving on to antidepressant side effects. Antidepressants are medicines that cure the symptoms of depression or prevent them from occurring. Furthermore, they also treat the following conditions:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  •  Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Some neurotransmitters in the brain are linked to emotion and mood, for example, serotonin and noradrenaline. Antidepressants work by increasing the levels of these neurotransmitters. Some antidepressants can provide relief from long-term pain as these neurotransmitters affect the pain signals that nerves send to the brain. 

Antidepressant Side Effects

In addition to treating depression, many antidepressants have a possible risk of side effects. This article contains antidepressant side effects and other risks associated with the use of antidepressants. Each antidepressant has its own side effects, here we state the most common among these side effects. 

Antidepressants of the Category Tricyclic

  • Oral health and tooth decay
  • Diabetes
  • Mania or hypomania
  • Antimuscarinic effects
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
  • Decreased alertness
  • SIADH (Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone Secretion)
  • Serotonin syndrome

SNRIs (Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors) and SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors)

  • Nausea (sick feeling)
  • Sexual problems
  • Decreased alertness
  • Mania or hypomania
  • Headaches
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
  • Oral health and tooth decay
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • SIADH (Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone Secretion)
  • diabetes

MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors)

  • suicidal thoughts
  • SIADH (Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone Secretion)
  • Decreased alertness
  • Diabetes
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Serotonin syndrome

Effects of these Side Effects

Here is an explanation of how these side effects affect humans and what they should expect to experience.

1 – Lack of Ability to Concentrate

You may experience a decrease in alertness when using antidepressants. This can happen particularly at the start of the usage. This in turn affects performing daily activities that need an active mind and alertness, such as driving and operating machinery. 

2 – Antimuscarinic Effects

These effects also called anticholinergic effects, change the level of the chemical acetylcholine in the body. Changes in the level of acetylcholine in the body results in the following effects:

  • Hallucinations
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea (sick feeling)
  • Drowsiness
  • Agitation and confusion
  • Feeling of pressure in the eye
  • Constipation, which can become severe and fatal if not treated on time
  • Disturbed heart rhythm and rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Disturbed rhythm and rapid heartbeat
  • Dry mouth, which eventually results in tooth decay
  • Low blood pressure (a greater risk when taking a hot bath)
  • Lesser sweating and hot, dry skin

3 – Diabetes 

If antidepressants are used for many years, then it increases the risk of diabetes. The following people are at a greater risk of this die effect:

  • Taking tricyclics or SSRIs
  • Older than 30 years

4 – Mania or Hypomania

Some people may develop mania or hypomania as antidepressant side effects. If you stop using the antidepressant, then this side effect will no longer stay. But sometimes, mania or hypomania can indicate bipolar disorder. When you consult your doctor, they may change the medicines and treatment. 

5 – Serotonin Syndrome

This condition is experienced by few people taking antidepressants, but it can prove life-threatening. This most commonly happens with SSRIs, but other antidepressants can also trigger it. You are at greater risk if you use SSRI together with other medicines, especially lithium or another antidepressant.

These are some of the most common symptoms indicating serotonin syndrome:

  • Nausea (sick feeling)
  • Sweating, shivering, and high temperature
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure and rapid heartbeat
  • Diarrhea
  • Hallucination, agitation, and confusion
  • Over-responsive reflexes, muscle twitching, and tremors

If you experience these symptoms, then go to the nearest medical health facility.

Here is a List of Some Uncommon Symptoms of NMS:

  • Loss of consciousness (coma)
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Fits, or convulsions

Contact your GP and take immediate medical health in case of the above-mentioned symptoms.

6 – Gastrointestinal Bleeding

SSRI antidepressants can rarely result in bleeding inside the gastrointestinal system, including the intestines and stomach.

Patients using antidepressants and 80 years are at a greater risk of developing this die effect. The doctors usually prescribe a different antidepressant to patients above 80 years.

7 – Sexual Problems

People using antidepressants are at risk of developing sexual problems as a side effect. Here are some common sexual problems:

  • Inability to orgasm
  • Delayed orgasm
  • Spontaneous orgasm
  • Reduced sexual desire
  • Delayed ejaculation

Men Could Experience these Side Effects:

  • Priapism (a condition when the penis experiences a painful erection, lasting for several hours)
  • Failed erection

If a person experiences priapism, they should seek medical help urgently. These side effects may appear a while after using the antidepressant, so report them to your GP whenever they occur.

8 – Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS)

This is a serious neurological disorder, but occurs in rare cases and affects the nervous system. People using antipsychotic drugs are at a greater risk of developing this antidepressants side effects as compared to people using other antidepressants. This effect is rapid and people experience it within 72 hours. 

Here are the common symptoms of NMS:

  • Changes in blood pressure and rapid heartbeat
  • High fever and sweating
  • Difficulty swallowing food and speaking
  • Lethargy, confusion, fainting, going into a coma
  • Loss of movement, rigid or stiff muscles, and tremors or shaking

The first symptoms are usually rigid muscles and high fever. NMS should be diagnosed in a short time, otherwise, it can become severe and even life-threatening.

If you feel that you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms of NMS, then contact your general physician. 

Treatment of NMS

The possible treatment of NMS is carried out in the hospital and includes stopping the use of antidepressants and trying to lower the body temperature. Doctors sometimes use some other methods to treat NMS, but their effectiveness is not proven. These include:

  • Using medicines to relax the muscles
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
  • Medicines to deal with the chemical effects in the body that the doctors think are causing NMS

After once having NMS, it is better to avoid using antidepressants. Only use the lowest effective dose if it is essential for the mental health of the patient.

Many people who once have NMS develop it again afterwards. You may have to wait for days or even weeks for the symptoms to disappear.

9 – Oral health and Tooth Decay

If an antidepressant causes a dry mouth, then it can eventually lead to tooth decay and other oral health issues. People using tricyclic antidepressants are more likely to experience this side effect. Discuss your oral health and teeth health with your dentist while taking antidepressants.

10 – Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone Secretion (SIADH)

This side effect is mostly associated with the use of SSRIs, tricyclics, and SNRIs. It can be severe and even life-threatening, but it is not very common.

SIADH makes the body secrete an excessive amount of vasopressin, a hormone that controls urine production in the body. This causes a lowering of sodium levels in the body as the body holds onto water. 

This condition, called hyponatremia causes the following:

  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Coma or loss of consciousness
  • Fits or convulsions
  • Drowsiness, lack of concentration, falls, and memory problems.

These effects are more common in older people.

11 – Suicidal Thoughts

While using antidepressants, the patients may develop suicidal thoughts. By increasing the patient’s motivation and energy levels, antidepressants such as SSRIs can make you more energetic to think about suicide. Speak to your doctor if you experience any such thoughts and feelings.

Wrapping Up

We have listed here the most common side effects of antidepressants, keep them in mind to ensure proper usage of each medicine. For more information about antidepressants’ side effects, visit our website supermeds.to