What are the Risks and Benefits of Antidepressants?

One of the most used medications outside of heart medications and cholesterol control is antidepressants. The hardest part of understanding antidepressants is that while they may help they can also lead to additional issues.  

From increasing heart risk, decreasing sex drive, and increasing weight, there are several risks that you can incur when taking antidepressants.  At the same time, the benefits may outweigh the risks for you since the biggest benefit is a better quality of life.

Increased Risk of Other Medical Issues

A risk not often talked about, is how antidepressants can lead to an increase in other diseases.  From heart health problems to other issues such as Type 2 Diabetes, the risks can become fairly large.  

According to the NHS, there are far more risks than you might have thought: serotonin syndrome, water retention, salt imbalance, diabetes and increased suicidal thoughts. 

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Serotonin Syndrome

One of the biggest risks with SSRI or SSRI related antidepressants is Serotonin Syndrome.  This problem arises when there is too much serotonin that hasn’t been picked back up by the brain.  

From the not so difficult shivers and mild disorientation to the more severe seizures and manic episodes, serotonin syndrome can heavily affect your life.


Hyponatremia is the fancy word for having too much salt in your body. Generally, this is going to happen with older individuals but can also occur in younger people as well.

The antidepressant forces the body to absorb more salt from foods and this in turn causes water retention to try and balance out the amount of salt in the body.  When there is too much water being held in the body, this can lead to heart issues as the heart isn’t capable of pumping such large amounts of fluid for an extended period of time.

Weight Loss and Gain

While not as drastic as heart damage or an increase in diabetes, weight loss and gain is also potential risk of antidepressants. One of the more startling problems is the speed at which someone can gain or lose weight depending upon the antidepressant.

If you are noticing rapid weight loss or gain, immediately contact your doctor and make sure that you are safe.

Insomnia or Hypersomnia

If you haven’t been sleeping, then you will probably find your sleep a little more balanced when on antidepressants.  However, there are also outliers.

Even if you get regular sleep, there is the risk of having hypersomnia where it is difficult to stay awake and instead sleep takes over without much warning.  Insomnia on the other hand is losing sleep.  If you had a positive sleep schedule at one point and now you can’t sleep, this could be a potential risk of starting antidepressants.

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Increased Quality of Life May Outweigh Risks

One of the biggest, most undeniable benefits of taking care of depression is an increase in your quality of life. Even if you aren’t taking antidepressants, finding a way to care for your mind is going to help you feel better.

At the point of deciding whether or not you want to talk to your doctor about antidepressants, you have to decide if the benefits are going to outweigh the risks for you.

Reduction of Suicidal Thoughts

Not all depression is associated with suicidal thoughts, however, a vast majority of silent sufferers have to deal with this mental process regularly.  Antidepressants directly help with these feelings of hopelessness and unworthiness by balancing out what is called feel good hormones.  

Mental Stability

When your mind isn’t constantly in a dark place, it makes it easier to go through life without as many issues as you might have prior to taking antidepressants.  It can be easier to process emotions, deal with events, and communicate more easily, and have even more benefits.  Once the mind is balanced, then the body, communication, and relationships will follow!

Decrease in Manic Episodes

If you have to deal with the unfortunate side effect of manic depression, antidepressants can help far more than you think.  Instead of feeling as though your mind is going to bounce outside of your head, manic episodes become far more manageable and result in less harm, hair changes, and tattoos.


Antidepressants are a personal choice that you have to make.  Risks and benefits all have to be taken into consideration before deciding whether or not you are going to walk down that prescription road.  Keep in mind that more studies indicate a better quality of life rather than a worse quality of life.

What this means is that more than likely, you are going to experience your life getting easier instead of harder.  The decision is ultimately yours and hopefully, these risks and benefits help you make an informed decision.