Choosing an antidepressant can be difficult, but there are aids available both online and from medical practitioners to help. Types of antidepressant include SSRIs, TCAs, SNRIs and MAOIs among others, while there are also natural and hormone treatments such as St John’s Wort and melatonin which have been shown to be effective for some conditions. Some patients will respond better to some drugs than others – so how do you choose which one?
Most doctors will use a computer program known as an algorithm in order to make the choice. An algorithm is basically a flow chart program that presents the doctor with a number of multiple choice questions. Examples of algorithms that can be used by the general public are available one the Health Connections algorithms page, while a visual representation of a flow chart used in such an algorithm can be viewed here.
An algorithm basically quizzes a user about the symptoms of the patient for which a drug is to be described. There are many factors influencing the decision, not least the kind of condition from which the patient is suffering – antidepressants can be prescribed for anxiety, tension and mood disorders such as schizophrenia as well as clinical depression. The nature of the affliction will play a huge part in determining the outcome.
Specifically, some of the main factors that affect the decision are:
1. Does the patient suffer from a mood disorder such as bipolar or cyclothymia? In this case a mood stablizier like lithium may be recommended.
2. Does the patient exhibit psychotic symptoms? If so then an antipsychotic drug may also be administered.
3. Does the patient suffer from any other conditions requiring medication? If so then it is important to choose a drug with a low level of complication and interaction, such as Celaxa.
4. How old is the patient? Minors can suffer long term damage from the wrong antidepressant and Prozac is the only antidepressant actively recommended for use in those under 18. Older patients will generally be prescribed something like Celaxa with a low risk of complication.
5. Has the patient reacted well or badly to previous drug treatments? Some people are genetically disposed against certain kinds of drug. If a person has previous experiences with a drug then this can guide future choice.
These are a few of the factors affecting choice – however, there are many other questions to be answered and anybody making a serious choice is advised to use available computer software or consult a medical professional. Choices based on algorithms are based on knowledge collected from clinical trials. Information collected from medical trials is collected on a regular basis by algorithmic programs which are updated with the latest information in order to make the best choice possible.
Choosing an antidepressant is thus a complex task and shouldn’t be made on the basis of a single factor alone. Individuals seeking antidepressants need to have a full understanding of their condition and symptoms and should make use of available technology to make an informed choice.