Antidepressant  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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  1. An agent that prevents or counteracts depression.

An antidepressant is a psychiatric medication used for alleviating major depression or dysthymia ('milder' depression). Drug groups known as MAOIs, tricyclics, and second-generation antidepressants such as SSRIs are particularly associated with the term. These medications are now amongst the drugs most commonly prescribed by psychiatrists and other physicians, and their effectiveness and adverse effects are the subject of many studies and competing claims.

Most antidepressants have a delayed onset of action and are usually taken over the course of weeks, months, or sometimes years. They are generally considered distinct from stimulants, and drugs used for an immediate euphoric effect only are not generally considered antidepressants. Despite the name, antidepressants are often used in the treatment of other conditions, including anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and chronic pain. Some have also become known as lifestyle drugs or "mood brighteners".

Other medications that are not usually called antidepressants, including antipsychotics in low doses and benzodiazepines, may also be used to manage depression, though in the case of "Benzos", there is a serious risk of physical dependence. An extract of the herb St John's Wort is commonly used as an antidepressant, labeled as a dietary supplement in some countries. The term antidepressant is sometimes applied to any therapy (e.g. psychotherapy, electro-convulsive therapy, acupuncture) or process (e.g. sleep disruption, increased light levels, regular exercise) found to improve clinically depressed mood.

An inert placebo tends to have a significant antidepressant effect, so establishing something as an antidepressant in a clinical trial involves demonstrating a significant additional effect.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Antidepressant" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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