Antidepressant Medication: Finding The Right Fit

Antidepressant medications are SSRIs, which stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. The way Anti-depressant pills work is to increase the neurotransmitter called Serotonin by a cellular process. Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter that is made biochemically through Tryptophan.

Serotonin is made naturally by the body, but a lower level of it is thought to be linked to depression. It is primarily made in the brain and the gastrointestinal tract, with about 80% of it coming from the gastrointestinal tract.

Serotonin is also responsible for mood, appetite, sleep, memory and sexual desire. Too low a level can affect these important components of human life. So antidepressant medication is supposed to help balance the right amount of Serotonin levels that the brain produces to restore normal, biological functions in the human brain and body.

What Are The Most Well Known Antidepressant Medications?

The most well-known SSRIs are as follows..

  • Sertraline also known as Zoloft
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)

And there are many more. The first mentioned name is the actual name of the drug itself, while names such as Zoloft, Paxil and Prozac are brand names.

What Are The Side Effects Of SSRIs?

Antidepressant medication isn’t perfect and sometimes can cause a person to have certain side effects. The most common side effects of SSRIs can be as follows:

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Dry Mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Low Sex Drive

In men antidepressant medication can cause erectile dysfunction and in women can reduce sex drive and make it difficult to reach orgasm.

Are Antidepressants Expensive?

Brand name forms of SSRIs can be expensive. Depending on whether you have health insurance or don’t – this is something that can affect the cost of medication designed to treat depression and anxiety.

Costs can range from $40 – $300 per month, depending on the product, what your insurance will cover and the dosage. The numbers presented here are a rough estimate, as you will need to do your own research.

Are Generic Versions Of Antidepressant Pills Available?

Yes, in most cases there are generic versions of SSRIs, which can be a lot cheaper and many times can yield the same benefits, although finding the right medication for you can be trial and error sometimes.

List Of Generic SSRI medications:

  • Citalopram
  • Desvenlaxafine
  • Fluoxetine
  • Mirtazapine
  • Paroxetine
  • Sertraline
  • Escitalopram
  • Duloxetine
  • Buproprion
  • Nefazodone

However it’s important to note that generic versions of these drugs must come at the request of your family practitioner.

Can I Switch Antidepressant Medication To See What Works Better?

Yes, you can, but you need to do so with the close advisory of your doctor. You may find that one antidepressant is not very affective for your situation, or may notice side effects that are not worth the trouble.

However, a doctor is important and necessary to be involved in the process, simply because they are expected to understand the pharmacological information tied to specific SSRIs.

This is of great benefit to you to make sure that there are no conflicts with other drugs you may be taking. It’s also important from the standpoint that your family doctor will be privy to your family medical history and your own, personal medical history.

Figuring out the right antidepressant can be a trial of error, but it’s a working process with your family doctor in working together to find the right fit. The good news is that once you do find a good medication to take, it can greatly help you in controlling anxiety, depression and making your day-to-day life a lot easier.

Is There Such A Thing As Withdrawal If I Stop Taking An Antidepressant?

Yes, although this may not be true for everyone. If you suddenly stop taking your medication then you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as..

  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Returning to an original state of depression

This process is sometimes referred to as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, and runs a greater chance of taking effect if you have been taking SSRI medication for longer than a period of 6 weeks.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you were addicted to the drug in the first place however. In fact, if you are considering making the choice to get off of your antidepressant medication, it’s wise to consult with your doctor first so that you can monitor the process.

Your doctor may even have you reduce the dosage little-by-little to see what the effects will be.





How To Ease Depression Using Meditation

A study carried out by the Journal of the American Medical Association reviewed almost 18,000 previous studies on the effectiveness of meditation as a treatment option for depression. The conclusion was that although meditating isn’t a total treatment for depression it can be just as helpful as anti-depressant medication.

The art of meditation has been observed by many cultures for thousands of years. When one thinks of meditation they usually picture a Buddhist Monk sitting high atop a mountain peak with legs crossed, elbows resting on the knees; thumb and forefinger pinched together. However, many people around the world from all different backgrounds practice meditation.

The benefits of meditating include..

  • Focusing on the now and not being stressed about time
  • Developing a closer bond and understanding of yourself
  • Getting yourself to relax
  • Connecting with a positive place deep inside

Although prayer and meditation can carry the same, powerful energy, meditation is all about silencing the mind and putting oneself in a state of conscious awareness. Even many family doctors will recommend practicing meditation to relieve stress, anxiety and depression, because it’s free and can be quite pleasant.

Using Meditation To Treat Depression

Again, meditating isn’t a perfect cure, but when combined with SSRIs, exercises, a good diet and techniques for seasonal depression – it can be quite the powerful combination.

Here’s what to think about if you are interested in practicing mindful meditation

  • You need to schedule time for yourself. Just 15 minutes can do wonders for your body and mind.
  • Try to be consistent and make a commitment that you will meditate every day for 15 minutes.
  • The research conducted in the study mentioned earlier had several thousand participants meditate for up to 8 weeks and noticed a major change in mood.
  • Try to go somewhere quiet. If you can’t – consider noise canceling headphones.
  • Sit in a comfortable position. It can also help to wear clothing that is soft and light to the skin.
  • Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
  • Breath in deep through your nose and slowly exhale through your mouth. Try to keep your breathing even in tempo, both through the inhale and the exhale. Sometimes it helps to count your breathing.
  • Be aware of your physical body as a whole. Try to be conscious of how your fingers, hands, arms, shoulders, head, legs and feet feel. Feel them getting heavier and heavier until the tension is released and your aren’t reliant on these sensations anymore.

The first few times you attempt to meditate you will notice that your brain is running rampant with crazy thoughts. This is normal. By focusing on your breathing, that little voice in your head will start to disappear and you will eventually reach a state of pure silence and pleasant calm. This is the point of meditating; to release outside bonds.

Meditating takes practice, but gets easier with time. Don’t focus on asking questions, trying to discover a higher power or anything like that. The point of this kind of meditation is relaxation and quiet.

But Will Meditating Help With My Depression?

That cannot be answered blatantly by just saying yes. However, many times when a person comes out of a state of depression they feel that they have a new perspective on life around them. It’s very common to feel a loving state of calm and to feel suddenly uplifted. If you make a commitment to yourself to keep practicing this for the recommended 15 minutes a day, then you may get to experience this feeling more and more.

Set A Timer

Set a timer on your clock or cell phone for 15 minutes. The first time that you meditate you’ll probably be focused on when the timer is going to go off and you may feel a little impatient and think “this is taking too long”. This is normal, but after a few tries you will most likely be amazed at how quickly the 15 minutes flew by.

Because the process can be so pleasant and a person may want more of this feeling, many people choose to up the time and go with 30 minutes and sometimes more.

Is Meditation Dangerous?

No, and it’s certainly not hypnotherapy like we typically think of. In real hypnotherapy you are in control of yourself and can come to whenever you like. Meditation is much like this. It’s simply a point of relaxation to reach and you can pull out of it with no effort. It is extremely harmless.

One Final Tip

Some people may find that having ambient music helps them relax and to get into the right state. There are many CDs designed to be played at places like massage clinics. These should be perfect for relaxing if you’re interested.



Is There A Link Between Vitamin D And Depression?

Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the Sunshine vitamin, because it can be absorbed and synthesized through the skin with proper sunlight. It also can be acquired through diet and taken in supplement form to promote healthy levels. The most important two types of this vitamin are D2 & D3. Despite popular belief, it is not an actual essential vitamin, because it can also be implemented through a healthy exposure to the sun. Any vitamin that is essential means that it can only be obtained and put into use through diet.

D is in charge of making the absorption of Zinc, Calcium, Phosphate, Magnesium and Iron possible.

Although the link between D and depression remains inconclusive, it has some very important health benefits.

First Consider The Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Muscle fatique
  • skeletal pain
  • Cognition issues with the elderly
  • Greater risk of cardiovascular disease

And some studies hint at the possibility that vitamin D may be helpful in preventing M.S., as well as type 1 & 2 diabetes. If you cannot consume milk, are a strict vegan or do not get enough natural sunlight then you can run the risk of vitamin d deficiency.

Does Vitamin D Deficiency Cause Depression?

Evidence is not conclusive, but some research does show a link between low vitamin D levels and depression. The issue is that it is uncertain whether or not a low level of D can cause depression or if having depression causes a low presence of D.

Research has however shown that it is very imperative to the basic functionality of both the body and the brain. In fact, many receptors in the brain do utilize this vitamin and a great number of these receptors are located in specific regions of the brain that have a direct link with depression.

A 2008 research that was carried out in Norway revealed that participants who had low traces of vitamin D in their blood stream had a stronger presence of depression and it’s symptoms. For more details please see

It’s also been estimated that 1 in 4 people suffer from a deficiency of vitamin D. Part of the issue is that for many people around the world, getting an ample amount of sunlight is difficult. This is because for many, the Winter and Fall process can drag on for up to 6 months out of the year; making it more challenging to get enough sunlight.

Studies have shown promise in using light therapy throughout this time to improve mood and do away with Seasonal Depression. Whether there is a link between this and vitamin D is uncertain, but some sources have shown that getting more D3 can help.

One thing seems to be quite clear. If you already have depression, increasing the amount of D in your body does not seem to show any harm or side effects.

Best Food Sources Of Vitamin D

Although you can take D3 supplements there are also some organic food sources that promote healthy levels.

  • Fatty fishes
  • Cod liver oil (can be taken as a supplement)
  • Herring, Mackerel, Salmon, Tuna, Catfish, Sardines
  • Milk and Soymilk
  • White Mushrooms
  • Tofu
  • Vitamin D fortified orange juice
  • Fortified cereal
  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Shitake mushrooms

Not a whole lot of foods are good sources of D. You’ll find most of them that do relate to seafood, while other forms that you can buy in your local grocery store such as cereals, grains and juices are fortified with D. For vegans or anyone who is concerned that they cannot get enough of this vitamin, D supplements are a great solution. Sunshine is another thing to consider getting more of as well.


What Is A SAD Light?

SAD lights are special kinds of lamps used in phototherapy to help treat the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

SAD light therapy lamp boxes are not your typical household systems, but rather specially designed lighting devices used to treat seasonal depression. They use flourescent and incadescent bulbs, and some newer models are now using
LED technology.

The most common types of these light boxes offer either full spectrum light at 10,000 lux, blue light running at a wave length of 480 nm at 2,500 lux or green light at a 500 wave length and 350 lux.

The full spectrum, 10,000 lux light is the most commonly used in treating SAD. There are many of these devices on the market ranging in price, running anywhere from $60 – $200 on average to the consumer.

SAD lights mimic sunlight, but without the same intensity. When using one of these devices, a patient sits within close range (usually 30 – 60 cm) while exposed to the light without looking directly into it. This comes out to 1 – 2 feet of distance between you and the light box.

If a person who is suffering from seasonal depression does this for 30 – 60 minutes each day for several weeks, the positive results can be significant. Many people who use SAD lamps in this manner experience a noticeable difference in condition after a few days.

The reasoning behind SAD lights is that they produce a chemical change in the brain, much like that of the sun’s light during the warmer parts of the year.

A study that was conducted in 1995 revealed that patients exposed to 500 nm of green (cyan and blue) light therapy at a dosage of 350 lux produced a melatonin suppression that had the same equivalent of 10,000 lux bright light therapy.

Treatment of seasonal depression can be more effective if the use of a SAD light begins in early Autumn. Most patients find that using one in the early morning is the best option. Using phototherapy in the evening can stimulate the mind and make it difficult to achieve sleep.

Unfortunately, the majority of health insurance plans will not cover the costs of a light box, but the good news is that one can typically be bought either over the counter, online or with a prescription from your general practitioner.

How Does Phototherapy Work?

Phototherapy, or traditionally referred to as “heliotherapy”; is the treatment of certain conditions using light exposure. It is more common to use phototherapy as a treatment option for certain conditions such as depression and psoriasis (a skin condition that causes redness and irritation).

Using special light boxes, a person can administer phototherapy to themselves for a set amount of days and  weeks. This therapy is usually conducted in the morning hours, because the light from these lamps can be too stimulating and interfere with sleep cycles.

Phototherapy is quite beneficial to those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD may be a direct cause of the shorter days and hours of sunlight during the Fall and Winter months. With light boxes that are utilized in phototherapy, the cells in the retina of the eyes are stimulated. These same cells have connections to the hypothalamus, which is a section of the brain that is responsible for the circadian rhythm.

It is believed that a person who is exposed to emulated sunlight for an ample amount of minutes each day may experience a change in mood and outlook. SAD lamps as they are often times referred to typically put out 10,000 lux in light. Lux is a measurement of light. On a normal, sunny day a person can experience the natural benefits of 50,000 lux of light just from the sun.

Normal light bulbs that are used around the house produce an estimated 100 lux of light. Using a phototherapy light indoors for improving a depressive state of mind and emotions is quite a significant step forward. The bulbs used around the house are simply not enough to convince the body that we are in sun light. However, SAD lamps can produce enough harmless light to keep the circadian rhythm on track; prevent the feeling of lethargy and keep a positive mood on track.

What You Should Know About Phototherapy

Although phototherapy with the use of light boxes can be very beneficial to some people, it isn’t always appropriate a solution for everyone. Those who are bipolar or have diabetes should talk with their family doctor first before considering this as an option.

Those who are bipolar may experience mania that is brought on by the stimulation of the light in doors. Diabetes can affect the retina. Even though SAD lamps are generally regarded as not producing damaging light to the eyes, if you have diabetes you should talk with your doctor first before attempting phototherapy.

Phototherapy light boxes are not approved by the FDA. The affects of light treatment and how it actually works to improve something like depression is still a matter of study, but a lot of people feel that light box therapy is beneficial to their state.