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Understanding Antidepressants” by Wallace B. Mendelson

About 16 million Americans experience a major depression each year, and at any given time about ten percent of the population is taking antidepressants. The popularity of antidepressants is increasing rapidly: there are about four times as many people taking them than in the 1990s. There are many different ones available, in what can seem like a bewildering variety. In this book, Dr. Mendelson suggests that understanding the science of how antidepressants work in the body can help in a number of ways. First, it helps in making a wiser choice among them. Secondly, it makes sense of things. If one realizes that a particular antidepressant also has the qualities of an antihistamine, for instance, then it makes sense that it might also lead to sleepiness. Finally, it helps change a person’s approach about being depressed. It’s natural to feel that one is a recipient of this very painful kind of suffering, and then a recipient of a treatment. It may seem like there is not much to be done about it. In fact, there are a lot of options. By understanding more about these medications and their alternatives, it’s possible to take a more active stance and participate in the choice of treatment, and that’s an important first step.

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