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What Are Antidepressants?

What Are Antidepressants?

You may have heard about antidepressants as a treatment for depression, wonder what antidepressants are, how they work, and their role in treating depression. In this blog from CPST Texas, we’ll explore what antidepressants are, how they can help adolescents with depression and other mental health conditions, and important considerations for parents and caregivers.

What Are Antidepressants?

Antidepressants are a class of medications primarily used to treat depression and other mood disorders. They work by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which play a role in regulating mood, emotions, and stress responses. By balancing these neurotransmitters, antidepressants can alleviate symptoms of depression and improve overall mood.

The Importance Of A Psychiatric Evaluation

Undergoing a thorough evaluation by a psychiatrist is an important step before anyone of any age starts to take antidepressants. This evaluation allows the psychiatrist to gather comprehensive information about the adolescent’s symptoms, medical history, any underlying factors contributing to their mental health concerns, and family history of mental illness.

Additionally, a psychiatrist will be able to determine if your child may have another mental health condition, such as an anxiety disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, an eating disorder, bipolar disorder, or substance misuse. By conducting a thorough assessment, the psychiatrist can make an accurate diagnosis and determine whether antidepressants are the most appropriate treatment option for the child.

What Mental Health Conditions Are Antidepressants Prescribed To Treat? 

Antidepressants are commonly used to treat several mental health conditions in adolescents, including:

  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): Antidepressants are often prescribed as the first-line treatment for adolescents diagnosed with major depressive disorder. They help alleviate symptoms of persistent sadness, low mood, loss of interest in activities, and feelings of worthlessness or guilt.

  • Anxiety Disorders: Antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are also effective in treating various anxiety disorders in adolescents. These include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): SSRIs are particularly effective in reducing obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors associated with OCD in adolescents. They help regulate serotonin levels in the brain, which can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and obsessive thinking.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Antidepressants, particularly SSRIs, may be prescribed to adolescents with PTSD to help alleviate symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, nightmares, hypervigilance, and avoidance behaviors.

  • Panic Disorder: SSRIs and other antidepressants may be used to treat panic disorder in adolescents, helping to reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks and associated symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, trembling, and feelings of impending doom.

  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): In some cases, antidepressants, such as bupropion, may be prescribed off-label to adolescents with ADHD who do not respond well to stimulant medications or who have comorbid depression or anxiety.

  • Eating Disorders: Antidepressants, along with psychotherapy, may be used as part of the treatment plan for adolescents with eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa or binge-eating disorder. They can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety often associated with these disorders.

  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): Antidepressants may be used as part of the treatment plan for adolescents with borderline personality disorder to help stabilize mood and reduce symptoms of depression and impulsivity.

It’s important to note that the decision to prescribe antidepressants for adolescents should be carefully considered by a qualified mental health professional and should always be part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may include therapy, lifestyle changes, and support from caregivers. Additionally, close monitoring for side effects and regular follow-up with a healthcare provider are essential aspects of antidepressant treatment in adolescents.

CPST Texas Supports Mental Health In Children And Adolescents

At CPST, we believe that understanding common mental health conditions in children and adolescents is essential for promoting early intervention and providing appropriate support. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of these conditions, parents, caregivers, and educators can help young people navigate their mental health challenges effectively. With early intervention and support, children and adolescents can thrive and lead fulfilling lives.

If you are seeking services for a child or adolescent between the ages of 2-17, CPST is glad to offer comprehensive psychological testing, autism testing, ADHD testing, and more. Together, we can navigate the complexities of mental health and pave the way towards a brighter future. For services in Plano, Duncanville, and Forth Worth, call 214-396-396 today.