How do medications for depression work in teens?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
The most commonly prescribed medications for depression, panic disorder,
eating disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (see below) are SSRIs, including fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft), which work by allowing more serotonin to be available in your brain. Antidepressants are not a quick fix--it can take a few weeks before you begin to feel better. During that time you need to assess your feelings and moods and have the prescribing doctor adjust the medication accordingly, but it’s more of a slow fix than a quick one. SSRIs prevent serotonin from being taken up and broken down as fast, leaving it active in the synaptic spaces for a few nanoseconds longer, where it does its thing to make you feel good. SSRIs are not addicting but some patients may find them very helpful and stay on them for years, while others may be able to forgo
them after a few months. They do not change your personality or make you a different person; they allow your brains own natural serotonin to do its own thing and help you re-find you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.