General Article Antidepressants

Topic Selected: Depression

Explains what antidepressants are, how they work, possible side effects and information about withdrawal.

What are antidepressants?

Antidepressants are psychiatric drugs which are available on prescription and are licensed to treat depression. Some are also licensed to treat other conditions, such as:

  • anxiety
  • phobias
  • bulimia (an eating disorder)
  • some physical conditions.


How do they work?

Antidepressants work by boosting or prolonging the activity of particular brain chemicals, such as noradrenaline and serotonin, which are thought to be involved with regulating mood.

Noradrenaline and serotonin are neurotransmitters. This means that they pass messages between nerve cells in your brain, and between nerves and other target organs in the rest of your body.

By causing a change to your brain chemistry, antidepressants may lift your mood. However, antidepressants don’t work for everyone, and there is no scientific evidence that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance which is co...

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