Good for you for asking and finding out what you're getting into. I hope I can help a little.
As far as I know, Prozac is the only drug that has actually been cleared for use in younger people (there seem to be some recommendations that this should be the only one considered even up to age 25). The down side is that everybody's chemistry is different, and it seems that the physical causes of different people's depressions may be different too, so if Prozac isn't the drug for you...well,...that would suck. The reason they don't recommend the other drug options is because of that suicide risk you mentioned.
1) Suicide: This seems to be much more common in teens on some of the other antidepressants, but I will say that I am 32 and had this type of reaction to one of the drugs I tried (the others didn't do this at all). Basically, instead of helping, it made my depression much, much worse. All the symptoms I was concerned about already got stronger, and new ones were added in as well...including more prominent thoughts of harming myself. In my case, I was able to notice before it got to the point that I did any permanent damage, and they took me off the drug. If I had known from the start what I know now, I would have insisted that they get me off of it much sooner. I knew after the first month that it was definitely making me worse instead of better. I should have been firmer and not let them increase my dose, but at the time I wasn't sure if it was the meds or just my own natural state that was getting lower.
I would say that if you do start taking an antidepressant, tell the people closest to you and who see you most often (this can be crazy hard, by the way, depending on how much you really trust them, but it's worth it). Also tell them that there's a chance the meds will make you more depressed, and that you need their help in noticing if you get worse. Often other people can see changes much more clearly than we can ourselves, especially when our emotions are all mucked up by medication. Keep an eye out yourself, and if you find that you're having thoughts in which hurting yourself wouldn't be such a bad thing, get back to the doctor, tell them these thoughts are starting, and get them to wean you off of the med (you can't stop taking them suddenly once your body is used to them). This includes thoughts that you don't think you'd really follow through on. That first stage is NOT a normal thing. It counts, and they only get stronger from there. I didn't realize that at first either. It's much better to cut them off before
they get to the stage where you're actually making plans. If you've already been having thoughts of self harm without the medication, pay attention to them getting even a little bit worse.
2) Orgasm and Sexual Side Effects: Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon side effect of the antidepressants called SSRI's (Prozac is one of those). That said, I've been on three different SSRI's, and only one of them lost me my orgasm. One made it a little harder to get to, and the other didn't seem to affect me sexually at all. Pardon me for being graffic, but I imagine you really want to know, so I will say that my sister lost her ability to get "wet", but said that she would gladly trade it for the difference in her mood. Once you're old enough to experiment with other medications, there are some antidepressants that do not have any sexual side effects, and ones that can be added to take away the problems that the SSRI's give.
The good news is that even if you do experience some changes there, they should go away within a few months after you stop taking the drug. There may be a handful of cases in the world where people have more difficulties (not sure), but if they do it's one of those extremely rare things. I wouldn't be worried about it making any lasting changes.
3) Recommendations: If you're a person who is prone to depression, I think it is extremely important to look into the other sides of the issue in addition to medication (at least, if you're looking for a lasting solution). After many years, the body can become used to it's antidepressants, and they can start losing their effectiveness. Improvements made through therapy, lifestyle changes, etc. are permanent, and can get a lot of people to the point that they don't need the medications anymore. I would say the less medication the better, so I think trying to actually "fix" the problem is important (taking Tylenol for a headache doesn't actually make your head all better, it just keeps you from feeling the pain of it. It's sort of the same with antidepressants, I think. They temporarily change your available levels of certain neurotransmitters, but they don't actually fix whatever the original problem was. That's why most people just go back to being depressed when they stop taking them).
That said, if you can find an antidepressant that works for you, it can make a huge difference. And the extra energy and hope can make it MUCH easier to work on the more permanent solutions, if you choose to do that. They are not a no-big-deal kind of medication (they really do mess with your body significantly), but if it works, I would say that it's worth it. I was on one antidepressant that worked for me, but I was unfortuantely allergic to it. I've been spending the past year looking for another one that can do that for me, if that says anything about how big the difference was.
Beware of any source that tells you antidepressants are no big deal. Also beware of any source that tells you they're evil. As is often the case, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. Yes, they have drawbacks and can come with side effects, but sometimes it's worth it for that much change that fast. My personal views on taking them are here
, for what it's worth.
If you do get input from others on which medications they took and what happend, please do keep in mind that because everybody's chemistry is different, your reaction to a certain med could be completely different from theirs. I have a friend who is grateful every day for Effexor. I would rather swallow my own kneecaps than another caplet of that stuff.
Some information is really easy to find with a quick Google search, but some is much harder, especially in cases where your reaction isn't completely average or if you're looking for things that aren't strictly endorced by the medical community (like what happens when you mix alcohol and antidepressant meds). I assembled a bunch of the stuff that I found myself searching for on this page
, in case it could be helpful to anybody else. There may be some things in there that could be of use to you.
Good luck! I hope this helps even a little. I know it can be really difficult wading through all of this. Good for you for being brave and smart enough to seek help. Making that first trip to the doctor is often the hardest part.