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There are misconceptions about these drugs, says Dr Cosmo Hallström. In fact, they can be the best weapons in the fight against depression

DR COSMO HALLSTRÖM is a consultant psychiatrist and fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists who specialises in mood disorders

Barely a week goes by without antidepressants hitting the headlines, and it’s usually negative: we’re taking more than ever, they can affect our sex lives or they might be addictive - just three recent scare stories. But antidepressants are one of the most reliable and safest ways to treat depression.

The five main types of antidepressant are SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), tricyclics,SNRIs (serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors), NASSAs (noradrenaline and specific serotoninergic antidepressants) and MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors). They work by increasing levels of brain chemicals that regulate mood. But they’re not happy pills; they just restore you to feeling normal when you’re depressed.They don’t ‘numb’ your feelings, like tranquillisers, but help you feel more like you again.

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About Healthy Magazine

We’re staying #Hotandhealthy in the August issue of healthy. This issue we’re talking about sex: from the results of our sex survey – and how to stay satisfied between the sheets – to our deliciously satisfying, sexy salads to sustain you while the sun shines. We explore how to put heart into mindfulness, brush up on how to really listen, and ask what’s the best age to live to? We have expert advice on how to look and feel your best, from ethical beauty buys through to help for allergies and strategies for backache. Plus, we examine whether splashing out on exercise gear equals a better workout?