Dr. Ankur Saraiya talks about who should take depression medication.
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The question about who takes depression medication is complicated because the terminology can be so confusing. Medications that are called anti-depressants, while they are used to treat depression, they're also used appropriately to treat a lot of other illnesses, and in some cases, they're used inappropriately to treat other illnesses because relatively speaking the side effect profiles are so relatively minor compared to other medications that are there. Anti-depressants were named as a class because it was initially found that they helped with depression, but overtime it was found that they were also just as effective for certain anxiety symptoms. So you can have situations where somebody who's never had any kind of symptoms of depression is on a medication that is called an anti-depressant, but again, that is a problem of terminology, and actually it is perfectly appropriate that that person be given that medication because these medications are helpful for anxiety symptoms. Another situation that can get confusing is individuals with bipolar disorder. On the one hand, individuals with bipolar disorder do have depressive episodes; however, most anti-depressant medications have the risk of triggering manic episodes. But the situation is even more confusing because there are certain anti-depressant medications that are safe to use in people who have bipolar disorder. Given the level of complication, what all of this boils down to, is it's very important to have depression medication by a psychiatrist because psychiatrists are the ones that specialize both in making appropriate diagnoses and being up to date in knowing the latest information about these medications.