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An estimated one in ten people suffer from depression. Antidepressants are the most widely-used drugs in the U.S., with a whopping 11 percent of Americans over the age of 12 taking them under medical supervision, reveals data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2005-2008.

Depression is not a situational sadness; it is a lasting and pervasive mood disorder.

However, some experts question its classification as a true disease, stating that there is no clear evidence that the "chemical imbalance" many doctors blame for the symptoms of depression, actually exist at all. This aside, many people rely on prescription drugs to treat their depression, sometimes not fully understanding the risks involved with the medication.

There are several different, widely used medications prescribed for the treatment of depression. The most common antidepressants are known as SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. They work by limiting the reuptake of serotonin in the brain. This reportedly assists in the management of depression because it's suspected that a low level of serotonin (the feel-good brain chemical) is associated with depressive symptoms. By preventing reuptake, more of the chemical is circulating in the brain. These drugs include Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Paxil and Lexapro.

Short term effects:

Short term effects of the drugs include dry mouth, lack of sex drive, insomnia, weight gain, loss of appetite, drowsiness, constipation, sweating, dizziness and anxiety. These effects of antidepressants are often most noticeable when a person first begins to take the prescription. As the body adjusts to the chemicals within the drug, the effects reportedly become less noticeable.

Long term effects:

Increased stroke risk: A study published in the journal Neurology indicated that patients taking SSRI drugs have a 50 percent greater chance of suffering an intra-cranial hemorrhage and a 40 percent greater risk of suffering an intra-cerebral hemorrhage when compared with people not taking antidepressants.

Birth defects and miscarriages: The FDA's MedWatch Adverse Events Reporting System revealed that antidepressant use by pregnant women suffering from depression was responsible for more than 4,000 critical birth defects and heart defects, almost 3,000 spontaneous abortions, and 3,000 premature births. In all, antidepressants are said to increase the risk of miscarriage by 68 percent.

Suicide: Ironically, many studies have linked the use of antidepressants with an increased risk of suicide, suicide attempts and even worse, depression symptoms.

Antidepressants have also been linked to increased risk of autism in children, higher rates of breast cancer, and even bone density depletion.

A Newsweek feature story had earlier said that Studies suggest that these anti depressants are just placebos. These drugs might have helped a lot of people to cope with depression, but they are not necessarily the first choice. Psychotherapy is a better choice for moderate or severe depression.

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