Antidepressant drugs: What schedule is this substance on? What is the history of its use in the US, including how it was introduced? Are there any legal purposes for antidepressant drugs?

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Antidepressants were originally discovered in Switzerland by researchers looking for a treatment for schizophrenia. This new drug was designed to modify the balance of the brain's neurotransmitters and resulted in euphoric feelings in the patient. While this was counterproductive for schizophrenic patients, researchers realized that it did present positive outcomes...

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Antidepressants were originally discovered in Switzerland by researchers looking for a treatment for schizophrenia. This new drug was designed to modify the balance of the brain's neurotransmitters and resulted in euphoric feelings in the patient. While this was counterproductive for schizophrenic patients, researchers realized that it did present positive outcomes for those suffering from depression. In 1955, those suffering from depression hailed this tricyclic as a "miracle drug" because of the newly sociable and energetic outcomes in produced. It was marketed as Tofranil in 1958. Up to eighty percent of patients found relief, but they also faced significant side effects, such as weight gain and sluggishness.

Eventually, scientists targeted a specific brain chemical. A new class of antidepressants hit the market: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Prozac led the field in 1987, Zoloft followed in 1991, and Paxil came along in 1992. These drugs presented fewer side effects and a lower risk of overdose than tricyclics. By 2008, antidepressants were the third most commonly prescribed drug in the United States.

Drugs like Prozac have come with their share of critics. Some who have taken the drug claim that their suicidal feelings increased while taking the drug. Others claim that the drug leads to feelings of aggression. Links between SSRIs and increased feelings of depression are still being studied. Some believe that the drugs are prescribed far too liberally, for everything from PMS to public speaking.

Antidepressants are not found on the drug schedule because they are SSRIs. Controlled substances, which are believed to have high potentials to be habit-forming, are found on that schedule (such as oxycodone, steroids, and valium).

There are plenty of legal purposes for antidepressants. Here are some reasons people are prescribed these drugs:

  • major depression
  • seasonal affective disorder
  • social anxiety
  • fibromyalgia
  • chronic pain
  • personality disorders

It is also worth noting that there are various classes of antidepressants beyond SSRIs, including NASSAs, MAOIs, and SNRIs. The term antidepressant covers a wide range of drugs which have been developed to reverse feelings of depression by altering the brain's responses in strategically different ways. MAOIs, for example, were introduced before SSRIs and SNRIs and work by inhibiting the brain enzyme monoamine oxidase—yet they have a high risk for interacting with other medications and foods and are therefore not prescribed often. Because each person's body chemistry is unique, patients will find varying levels of success with any one of these drugs, which target the brain's chemistry in different ways.

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