Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Zoloft and Wellbutrin for the Treatment of Depression

Zoloft and Wellbutrin are prescription medications, commonly used for the treatment of depression. These medications may also be used for the treatment of other mental health conditions such as anxiety.

Zoloft, also sold in generic formulations as Sertaline, belongs to a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). Zoloft, like other SSRIs, works by preventing the reuptake of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Among other neurotransmitters, serotonin primarily affects mood. Individuals who have depression, resulting from an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, may have decreased serotonin levels. This decrement in serotonin may result from decreased production or increased reuptake. Preventing the reuptake of serotonin leaves more of the neurotransmitter available to reach receptor sites.

Zoloft side effects are usually not severe, and typically decrease with continued treatment. The most common Zoloft side effects are gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea and diarrhea. Sexual problems are fairly common in both men and women. Fluctuations in weight are not uncommon if Zoloft is effectively treating depression. Individuals, who have atypical depression, may have a decreased appetite and lose weight, while individuals who have classic symptoms of depression may see slight increases in their weight, as their appetite returns. Rarely, severe Zoloft side effects can occur, which can be due to an allergic reaction, or if an individual is prescribed multiple antidepressants that have similar effects on serotonin. High levels of serotonin, called serotonin syndrome, can cause erratic behavior, vomiting and dizziness, which requires prompt medical attention.

Alcohol should not be consumed while taking Zoloft. The combination of Zoloft and alcohol can exacerbate the side effects of both drugs. Furthermore, the individual is at high risk for liver damage and seizures. Zoloft withdrawal effects can occur if the drug is discontinued. Individuals are typically taken off Zoloft slowly, to prevent adverse effects. Sudden discontinuation can result in mood-swings, severe depression or suicide. There are no known long term side effects of Zoloft. However, it is not uncommon for individuals who have been using Zoloft for an extended amount of time to find the medication is less effective at alleviating their depression.

Wellbutrin, known in generic form as Bupropion, does not fit into the common classes of antidepressants and is termed an atypical antidepressant. However, it may be classified as a dopamine-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (DNRI). Wellbutrin works by preventing the reuptake of both the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Due to its minimal effects on serotonin, it is not uncommon for Wellbutrin to be safely administered in combination with Zoloft or another SSRI. This combination of different classes of medications can be effective in treating depression because it increases the levels of all three major neurotransmitters, simultaneously. Wellbutrin side effects include nausea and restlessness. More severe side effects such as elevated blood pressure or seizures are possible. Many individuals find that Wellbutrin elevates anxiety, but it is effective in alleviating anxiety for some individuals. Another side effect may be a decrease in the desire to smoke. This beneficial side effect precipitated the marketing of Wellbutrin as a smoking cessation aid, known as Zyban.

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