Mental Health Medications Explained in Simple Terms
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Mental Health Medications Explained in Simple Terms


Did you know that 19.2 percent of adults had received mental health treatment in the last year? This includes 15.8 percent of respondents who had taken prescription medication to help them manage their mental health symptoms.


There are a lot of stigmas, confusion, and misinformation surrounding mental health and prescription medications. These issues, in turn, can make it harder for people to want to use medication as a treatment option to do so, even though it could be very helpful for them.


For those who are unsure about taking prescribed medications and want more information, listed below are some common questions about mental health medications, answered in simple terms.



What Are Antidepressants?


Antidepressants are some of the most well-known medications for mental health conditions. They’re used to treat depression, of course, but they can also be prescribed to help manage other conditions, such as anxiety disorders.


There are several different types of antidepressants, but the two most common options are SSRIs (short for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and SNRIs (short for Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors).



How Do Antidepressants Work?


Both SSRIs and SNRIs work by preventing the reuptake of some of the neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain.


SSRIs block the reuptake of serotonin and make it more readily available in the brain. SNRIs block the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine.


According to this report from the Psychopharmacology Bulletin, some research shows SNRIs can be more effective than SSRIs. However, both have been shown to be effective and typically come with fewer side effects than other types of antidepressants. This is especially true when they’re combined with other treatment modalities like talk therapy.



What Are the Side Effects of Antidepressants?


Antidepressants, like many other medications prescribed for mental health conditions, come with side effects. The following are some of the most common ones:


  • Diarrhea/Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Tremors
  • Weight gain


Medication Management



What Are Anti-Anxiety Medications?


Anti-anxiety medications are psychiatric medications designed to help manage symptoms of anxiety disorders. This includes conditions like Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.


SSRIs and SNRIs are often prescribed for patients with anxiety disorders. Other types of anti-anxiety medication include benzodiazepines and beta-blockers.



How Do Anti-Anxiety Medications Work?


Benzodiazepine medications work for anxiety by reducing physical symptoms. This includes symptoms like muscle tension and rapid heart rate. They work very quickly and provide fast relief, but they can also be habit-forming.


Beta-blockers slow down the heart rate. They’re often prescribed to people with high blood pressure, but they can work for anxiety symptoms, too.



What Are Side Effects of Anti-Anxiety Medications?