How do antidepressant medicines work?

Depression is thought to be linked to low levels of naturally-occurring chemical messengers in the brain. These messengers are called neuro-transmitters. They send electrical impulses between different parts of the brain. In depression, two neuro-transmitters are known to be particularly important. These are called serotonin (pronounced seer-o-tone-in) and noradrenaline (pronounced nor-ad-ren-a-linn). Serotonin is also sometimes called 5HT for short.

Some antidepressants work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. This type of antidepressant is called a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor or SSRI for short. SSRI antidepressants are the ones that are most widely used in Britain.

Some antidepressants work by increasing the levels of noradrenaline in the brain. Some antidepressants work by increasing the levels of both noradrenaline and serotonin.

It doesn’t seem to matter which neuro-transmitter is increased, all antidepressants are about equally effective.

Venlafaxine is an SSRI antidepressant and increases the levels of serotonin in the brain.

What type of medicine is Venlafaxine and what is it used for?

Venlafaxine is an antidepressant medicine. It treats the symptoms of depression.

Brief description of depression

Depression is a condition that affects both your mental and your physical health. It can cause a persistently low mood, prevent you from enjoying your life, interfere with your sleep, make it very difficult to concentrate, sap your energy, affect your appetite and cause unpleasant morbid thoughts about death and suicide. Depression affects different people in different ways: some people may have many symptoms of depression, but are able to get on with their lives; others may have few symptoms but be completely unable to cope.

Treatments for depression

Most people with depression are not able to manage without outside help. Many people are not aware that help – and choices – are available at all. For some people with depression, talking treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy (called CBT for short) are effective. Other people respond better to antidepressant medicines. Some people need both. CBT works best in milder forms of depression, while in more severe forms of depression, antidepressants work better. The important thing to know is that the majority of people with depression can be treated successfully.

Antidepressant medicines

Antidepressants are not very effective in milder forms of depression, but may be of benefit if you are suffering with anxiety. They have been shown to be effective in moderate to severe depression, and, in severe depression, can be combined with CBT.

Taking an antidepressant is not a sign of weakness, but is a positive decision to take control of your depression.

Click here to learn more about antidepressant side effects