How to decide whether to take antidepressants



You may want to have a say in this decision, or you may simply want to follow your doctor’s recommendation. Either way, this information will help you understand what your choices are so that you can talk to your doctor about them.

Depression: Should I Take an Antidepressant?

1

Get the
Facts

2

Compare
Options

3

Your
Feelings

4

Your
Decision

5

Quiz
Yourself

6

Your Summary

Get the facts

Your options

  • Take antidepressants to treat depression.
  • Don’t take antidepressants.

If you’re pregnant, there may be other issues that affect your decision. Pregnant women need to be more careful about taking antidepressants.

Key points to remember

  • Taking medicine for your depression can help you get your life back to normal, especially if you also get counselling. But if your symptoms are mild, lifestyle changes and counselling may be all you need.
  • You don’t need to be ashamed about taking antidepressants. Depression is a health problem, not a character flaw or weakness. The medicines won’t change your personality.
  • Antidepressants don’t work right away. And you may need to try a few before you find one that works.
  • Side effects are one reason that people stop taking antidepressants. But talk to your doctor. There are many ways to manage side effects. And lowering the dose or changing medicines may also help.
  • The thought of needing to take medicine for a long time can be scary. But many people are able to slowly stop taking antidepressants after a while.

FAQs

The symptoms of depression include a loss of interest in daily activities or feeling sad or hopeless and having at least four of the following symptoms:

  • A change in eating patterns that causes either weight gain or weight loss
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Feeling restless and unable to sit still, or feeling that moving takes a great effort
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Feeling unworthy or guilty without an obvious reason
  • Having problems concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Thinking often about death or suicide

In general, antidepressants increase the level of certain chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. This helps improve communication between brain cells over time, which can help you feel better.

There are several kinds of antidepressants. There is no evidence that one works better than another. But the side effects are different.

Antidepressants don’t change your personality. They help your symptoms.

You don’t need to be ashamed about taking antidepressants. Depression is a health problem, not a character flaw or weakness.

Most people are able to find an antidepressant that helps their depression. But you may have to try a few before you find one that works for you. The right medicine is one that helps your symptoms and has the fewest side effects.

You may start to feel better within 1 to 3 weeks after you start taking an antidepressant. But you may need to take it for as long as 6 to 8 weeks to see more improvement.

It’s best to keep taking your medicine for at least 6 months after you feel better. If this is not the first time you have been depressed, your doctor may want you to take these medicines even longer.

The thought of needing to take medicine for a long time can be scary. But many people are able to slowly stop taking antidepressants after a while.

Antidepressants can change how you feel and respond in certain situations, but they don’t change who you are. You may feel more relaxed, more social, more assertive, or more outgoing when you are taking an antidepressant.

Depression treated only with antidepressants, and not also with therapy, is more likely to come back later.

Most antidepressants cause minor side effects that go away or improve in the first few weeks of treatment. If you keep taking your medicine, there is a good chance that you will start to feel less depressed and that the side effects will decrease. Most people feel that the benefits of antidepressants are well worth the price of living with some side effects.

Side effects may vary depending on the medicine you take, but common ones include:

  • Nausea.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Diarrhea or constipation.
  • Sexual problems (loss of desire, erection problems).
  • Headaches.
  • Trouble falling asleep, or waking a lot during the night.
  • Weight gain.
  • Feeling nervous or on edge.
  • Feeling drowsy in the daytime.

Some side effects may not go away, but usually there are ways to manage them. Talk with your doctor about how to manage side effects.

Problems with sexual arousal and a lack of interest in sex are common side effects. If this happens to you, talk to your doctor. There are other medicines that may help with these problems.

Women who take an SSRI during pregnancy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. But not treating depression can also cause problems during pregnancy and birth. If you are pregnant, you and your doctor must weigh the risks of taking an SSRI against the risks of not treating depression.

Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued advisories on antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide. Talk to your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide.

Counselling

Counselling is an important part of the treatment for depression. The types of counselling most often used for treatment of depression include:

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy, which teaches you how to become healthier by changing certain thought and behaviour patterns.
  • Interpersonal therapy, which focuses on your relationships and the problems they may be causing.
  • Problem-solving therapy, which focuses on the problems you are facing and on helping you find solutions.
  • Family therapy, which involves the entire family.
Lifestyle changes

There are also lifestyle changes you may be able to make that may help your depression symptoms:

  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Don’t drink alcohol.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Get social support from family and friends.
  • Try to keep a positive attitude—remember that feeling better takes time, and your mood will improve little by little.
Other treatment choices

Besides counselling and lifestyle changes, there are some other treatments you can try:

  • Alternative treatments such as massage therapy and yoga may help you get better faster and make your life better.
  • You can try relaxation exercises at home to lower your stress.
  • Complementary therapies are sometimes used for depression. Talk to your doctor before taking any of them, because they can interfere with other medicines.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy may be used to treat severe depression or depression that hasn’t responded well to other treatment. It also may be a treatment choice for someone who cannot live with the side effects of antidepressants.

Your doctor might suggest that you try antidepressants if:

  • You have tried counselling and lifestyle changes, and they haven’t worked.
  • Your symptoms are bad enough that they interfere with your daily life.

Compare your options

What is usually involved?

What are the benefits?

What are the risks and side effects?

Take antidepressantsTake antidepressants

  • You take a pill or liquid medicine one or more times a day for months or sometimes years.
  • Antidepressants can improve or completely relieve symptoms.
  • Antidepressants usually help when counselling and lifestyle changes haven’t worked.
  • It takes weeks, and sometimes months, for the medicine to start working.
  • You may have to keep taking antidepressants for a long time.
  • Side effects—which can include nausea, diarrhea or constipation, sexual problems, weight gain, and trouble sleeping—cause many people to stop taking the medicine.

Don’t take antidepressantsDon’t take antidepressants

  • You treat your depression with counselling, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) or interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT). Many studies show that CBT helps mild to moderate depression as much as antidepressants.footnote 1 You can also help your depression with support and lifestyle changes, such as exercise.
  • You may try alternative treatments, such as massage and relaxation techniques.
  • Counselling works well for many people who have depression. Studies show that people who receive CBT have lower rates of relapse after treatment has stopped compared to people treated only with antidepressants.footnote 2
  • You avoid the side effects of the medicine.
  • Counselling may not be enough if your symptoms are severe.
  • Untreated depression is likely to get worse.

I didn’t even realize that I was depressed for a long time. I thought everyone felt this way; at least everyone in my family seemed to. I probably would have just gone on like that if my doctor hadn’t asked one day if I had ever thought about taking an antidepressant. I was relieved to find out that it isn’t normal to feel like I do and that a lot of people are helped by medicines. I know it might take a while to find the right one, but I’m in no hurry; I’ve spent my whole life feeling sad.

Jackie, age 62

I tried antidepressants about a year ago. I really was not prepared for the first few weeks, when the side effects seemed to get me down even more than the depression did. So I stopped taking them. It took me about 3 months, but I eventually started to feel better without any medicine. Then last month, I started to feel depressed again. I don’t want to wait so long to feel better this time. So I’m going to try the antidepressants again. This time, I know what to expect and am better prepared for it.

Tyrone, age 43

I guess I’m just not comfortable with taking medicine for my depression. I feel like I ought to be able to manage this on my own without needing medicine. It seems too much like taking the easy route. But maybe I just don’t feel bad enough yet.

Bob, age 50

I recently began going to counselling. I know that if I took an antidepressant, I might feel better sooner, but I don’t like the sound of the side effects I could have. My therapist and I have set some goals for me to work on, and we agreed to revisit my decision in 3 months. I want to wait and see how the counselling goes before I take medicine.

Joslyn, age 28

What matters most to you?

Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.

Reasons to take antidepressants

Reasons not to take antidepressants

My symptoms are keeping me from living my normal life.

My symptoms aren’t bad enough to get in the way of my life.

More important

Equally important

More important

I’m willing to take medicine every day for at least 6 months, and maybe longer.

I don’t like the idea of taking medicine for a long time.

More important

Equally important

More important

My symptoms are worse than the possible side effects of the medicines.

I think the side effects will be worse than my symptoms.

More important

Equally important

More important

My other important reasons:

My other important reasons:

More important

Equally important

More important

Where are you leaning now?

Now that you’ve thought about the facts and your feelings, you may have a general idea of where you stand on this decision. Show which way you are leaning right now.

Taking an antidepressant

NOT taking an antidepressant

Leaning toward

Undecided

Leaning toward

What else do you need to make your decision?

Certainty

1. How sure do you feel right now about your decision?

Not sure at all

Somewhat sure

Very sure

3. Use the following space to list questions, concerns, and next steps.

Your Summary

Here’s a record of your answers. You can use it to talk with your doctor or loved ones about your decision.

Next steps

Which way you’re leaning

How sure you are

Your comments

Key concepts that you understood

Key concepts that may need review

Patient choices

Credits

Author Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito MD – Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Donald Sproule MDCM, CCFP – Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock MD – Psychiatry

References

Citations

  1. Kennedy S, et al. (2009). Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) clinical guidelines for the management of major depressive disorder in adults. Journal of Affective Disorders, 117(Suppl 1): S1–S64.
  2. Hollon SD, et al. (2005). Prevention of relapse following cognitive therapy vs. medications in moderate to severe depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(4): 417–422.

You may want to have a say in this decision, or you may simply want to follow your doctor’s recommendation. Either way, this information will help you understand what your choices are so that you can talk to your doctor about them.

Depression: Should I Take an Antidepressant?

Here’s a record of your answers. You can use it to talk with your doctor or loved ones about your decision.

  1. Get the facts
  2. Compare your options
  3. What matters most to you?
  4. Where are you leaning now?
  5. What else do you need to make your decision?

1. Get the Facts

Your options

  • Take antidepressants to treat depression.
  • Don’t take antidepressants.

If you’re pregnant, there may be other issues that affect your decision. Pregnant women need to be more careful about taking antidepressants.

Key points to remember

  • Taking medicine for your depression can help you get your life back to normal, especially if you also get counselling. But if your symptoms are mild, lifestyle changes and counselling may be all you need.
  • You don’t need to be ashamed about taking antidepressants. Depression is a health problem, not a character flaw or weakness. The medicines won’t change your personality.
  • Antidepressants don’t work right away. And you may need to try a few before you find one that works.
  • Side effects are one reason that people stop taking antidepressants. But talk to your doctor. There are many ways to manage side effects. And lowering the dose or changing medicines may also help.
  • The thought of needing to take medicine for a long time can be scary. But many people are able to slowly stop taking antidepressants after a while.

FAQs

Are you depressed?

The symptoms of depression include a loss of interest in daily activities or feeling sad or hopeless and having at least four of the following symptoms:

  • A change in eating patterns that causes either weight gain or weight loss
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Feeling restless and unable to sit still, or feeling that moving takes a great effort
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Feeling unworthy or guilty without an obvious reason
  • Having problems concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Thinking often about death or suicide

What are antidepressants?

In general, antidepressants increase the level of certain chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. This helps improve communication between brain cells over time, which can help you feel better.

There are several kinds of antidepressants. There is no evidence that one works better than another. But the side effects are different.

Antidepressants don’t change your personality. They help your symptoms.

You don’t need to be ashamed about taking antidepressants. Depression is a health problem, not a character flaw or weakness.

How well do antidepressants work?

Most people are able to find an antidepressant that helps their depression. But you may have to try a few before you find one that works for you. The right medicine is one that helps your symptoms and has the fewest side effects.

You may start to feel better within 1 to 3 weeks after you start taking an antidepressant. But you may need to take it for as long as 6 to 8 weeks to see more improvement.

It’s best to keep taking your medicine for at least 6 months after you feel better. If this is not the first time you have been depressed, your doctor may want you to take these medicines even longer.

The thought of needing to take medicine for a long time can be scary. But many people are able to slowly stop taking antidepressants after a while.

Antidepressants can change how you feel and respond in certain situations, but they don’t change who you are. You may feel more relaxed, more social, more assertive, or more outgoing when you are taking an antidepressant.

Depression treated only with antidepressants, and not also with therapy, is more likely to come back later.

What side effects can antidepressants cause?

Most antidepressants cause minor side effects that go away or improve in the first few weeks of treatment. If you keep taking your medicine, there is a good chance that you will start to feel less depressed and that the side effects will decrease. Most people feel that the benefits of antidepressants are well worth the price of living with some side effects.

Side effects may vary depending on the medicine you take, but common ones include:

  • Nausea.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Diarrhea or constipation.
  • Sexual problems (loss of desire, erection problems).
  • Headaches.
  • Trouble falling asleep, or waking a lot during the night.
  • Weight gain.
  • Feeling nervous or on edge.
  • Feeling drowsy in the daytime.

Some side effects may not go away, but usually there are ways to manage them. Talk with your doctor about how to manage side effects.

Problems with sexual arousal and a lack of interest in sex are common side effects. If this happens to you, talk to your doctor. There are other medicines that may help with these problems.

Women who take an SSRI during pregnancy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. But not treating depression can also cause problems during pregnancy and birth. If you are pregnant, you and your doctor must weigh the risks of taking an SSRI against the risks of not treating depression.

Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued advisories on antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide. Talk to your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide.

What are other treatments for depression?

Counselling

Counselling is an important part of the treatment for depression. The types of counselling most often used for treatment of depression include:

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy, which teaches you how to become healthier by changing certain thought and behaviour patterns.
  • Interpersonal therapy, which focuses on your relationships and the problems they may be causing.
  • Problem-solving therapy, which focuses on the problems you are facing and on helping you find solutions.
  • Family therapy, which involves the entire family.
Lifestyle changes

There are also lifestyle changes you may be able to make that may help your depression symptoms:

  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Don’t drink alcohol.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Get social support from family and friends.
  • Try to keep a positive attitude—remember that feeling better takes time, and your mood will improve little by little.
Other treatment choices

Besides counselling and lifestyle changes, there are some other treatments you can try:

  • Alternative treatments such as massage therapy and yoga may help you get better faster and make your life better.
  • You can try relaxation exercises at home to lower your stress.
  • Complementary therapies are sometimes used for depression. Talk to your doctor before taking any of them, because they can interfere with other medicines.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy may be used to treat severe depression or depression that hasn’t responded well to other treatment. It also may be a treatment choice for someone who cannot live with the side effects of antidepressants.

Why might your doctor recommend antidepressants?

Your doctor might suggest that you try antidepressants if:

  • You have tried counselling and lifestyle changes, and they haven’t worked.
  • Your symptoms are bad enough that they interfere with your daily life.

2. Compare your options

Take antidepressants Don’t take antidepressants
What is usually involved?
  • You take a pill or liquid medicine one or more times a day for months or sometimes years.
  • You treat your depression with counselling, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) or interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT). Many studies show that CBT helps mild to moderate depression as much as antidepressants.1 You can also help your depression with support and lifestyle changes, such as exercise.
  • You may try alternative treatments, such as massage and relaxation techniques.
What are the benefits?
  • Antidepressants can improve or completely relieve symptoms.
  • Antidepressants usually help when counselling and lifestyle changes haven’t worked.
  • Counselling works well for many people who have depression. Studies show that people who receive CBT have lower rates of relapse after treatment has stopped compared to people treated only with antidepressants.2
  • You avoid the side effects of the medicine.
What are the risks and side effects?
  • It takes weeks, and sometimes months, for the medicine to start working.
  • You may have to keep taking antidepressants for a long time.
  • Side effects—which can include nausea, diarrhea or constipation, sexual problems, weight gain, and trouble sleeping—cause many people to stop taking the medicine.
  • Counselling may not be enough if your symptoms are severe.
  • Untreated depression is likely to get worse.

Personal stories

Personal stories about deciding whether to take antidepressants

These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.

“I didn’t even realize that I was depressed for a long time. I thought everyone felt this way; at least everyone in my family seemed to. I probably would have just gone on like that if my doctor hadn’t asked one day if I had ever thought about taking an antidepressant. I was relieved to find out that it isn’t normal to feel like I do and that a lot of people are helped by medicines. I know it might take a while to find the right one, but I’m in no hurry; I’ve spent my whole life feeling sad.”

— Jackie, age 62

“I tried antidepressants about a year ago. I really was not prepared for the first few weeks, when the side effects seemed to get me down even more than the depression did. So I stopped taking them. It took me about 3 months, but I eventually started to feel better without any medicine. Then last month, I started to feel depressed again. I don’t want to wait so long to feel better this time. So I’m going to try the antidepressants again. This time, I know what to expect and am better prepared for it.”

— Tyrone, age 43

“I guess I’m just not comfortable with taking medicine for my depression. I feel like I ought to be able to manage this on my own without needing medicine. It seems too much like taking the easy route. But maybe I just don’t feel bad enough yet.”

— Bob, age 50

“I recently began going to counselling. I know that if I took an antidepressant, I might feel better sooner, but I don’t like the sound of the side effects I could have. My therapist and I have set some goals for me to work on, and we agreed to revisit my decision in 3 months. I want to wait and see how the counselling goes before I take medicine.”

— Joslyn, age 28

3. What matters most to you?

Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.

Reasons to take antidepressants

Reasons not to take antidepressants

My symptoms are keeping me from living my normal life.

My symptoms aren’t bad enough to get in the way of my life.

More important

Equally important

More important

I’m willing to take medicine every day for at least 6 months, and maybe longer.

I don’t like the idea of taking medicine for a long time.

More important

Equally important

More important

My symptoms are worse than the possible side effects of the medicines.

I think the side effects will be worse than my symptoms.

More important

Equally important

More important

My other important reasons:

My other important reasons:

More important

Equally important

More important

4. Where are you leaning now?

Now that you’ve thought about the facts and your feelings, you may have a general idea of where you stand on this decision. Show which way you are leaning right now.

Taking an antidepressant

NOT taking an antidepressant

Leaning toward

Undecided

Leaning toward

5. What else do you need to make your decision?

Check the facts

1. Are antidepressants right for everyone with depression?

You’re right. Taking medicine for your depression can help you get your life back to normal. But if your symptoms are mild, lifestyle changes and counselling may be all you need.

2. Is it possible to manage the side effects of antidepressants?

That’s right. There are many ways to manage the side effects of antidepressants. If you’re worried, talk to your doctor.

3. Will you start to feel better right away?

That’s right. Antidepressants don’t work right away. And you may need to try several before you find one that works.

Decide what’s next

1. Do you understand the options available to you?

2. Are you clear about which benefits and side effects matter most to you?

3. Do you have enough support and advice from others to make a choice?

Certainty

1. How sure do you feel right now about your decision?

Not sure at all

Somewhat sure

Very sure

2. Check what you need to do before you make this decision.

  • I’m ready to take action.
  • I want to discuss the options with others.
  • I want to learn more about my options.

3. Use the following space to list questions, concerns, and next steps.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito MD – Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Donald Sproule MDCM, CCFP – Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock MD – Psychiatry

References

Citations

  1. Kennedy S, et al. (2009). Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) clinical guidelines for the management of major depressive disorder in adults. Journal of Affective Disorders, 117(Suppl 1): S1–S64.
  2. Hollon SD, et al. (2005). Prevention of relapse following cognitive therapy vs. medications in moderate to severe depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(4): 417–422.

Note: The “printer friendly” document will not contain all the information available in the online document some Information (e.g. cross-references to other topics, definitions or medical illustrations) is only available in the online version.

FAQs

When do you know you need antidepressants?

Are you depressed? The symptoms of depression include a loss of interest in daily activities or feeling sad or hopeless and having at least four of the following symptoms: A change in eating patterns that causes either weight gain or weight loss. Sleeping too much or not enough.

(Get More Info)

Are antidepressants worth it for anxiety?

If you experience anxiety If you have a form of anxiety or phobia, an antidepressant could help you feel calmer and more able to deal with other problems. It could also help you feel more able to benefit from other anxiety treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

(Get More Info)

What symptoms do antidepressants treat?

Antidepressants can also be used to help treat other mental health conditions, including:

  • anxiety disorder.
  • obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • panic disorder.
  • serious phobias, such as agoraphobia and social anxiety (social phobia)
  • bulimia.
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

(Get More Info)

What should I know before starting antidepressants?

Contents

  • Different medicines suit different people.
  • You need to take them every day.
  • They take a while to work.
  • Know what side effects to look out for.
  • Some side effects go away, others do not.
  • Keep checking in with your doctor.
  • They’re not a quick fix.
  • But don’t stop suddenly.

(Get More Info)

Does your brain go back to normal after antidepressants?

“The fact that antidepressant withdrawal can be so prolonged suggests that the drug has changed the brain and that those changes are taking a very long time to return to normal and it may be the case that sometimes they don’t go back to normal.”

(Get More Info)

What happens if you take an antidepressant when not depressed?

Most antidepressants boost mood and reduce depression symptoms by elevating serotonin levels in the brain. Although this is beneficial for someone who’s depressed, for someone who does not have depression, taking antidepressant medication can cause serotonin to build up in the body, resulting in serotonin syndrome.

(Get More Info)

Can you stay on antidepressants for life?

MYTH: Once on antidepressants, I’ll be on them for life. FACT: Not true. A general rule clinicians often use is that a person should be treated with antidepressants at least one-and-a-half times as long as the duration of the depressive episode before they can begin to be weaned off.

(Get More Info)

What happens if you take antidepressants for years?

Two recent reviews of research in this area concluded that discontinuation effects, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and sleep disturbance (multiple long-wake periods) are adverse effects of long-term SSRI use.

(Get More Info)

What if a normal person takes antidepressants?

They will help you feel like yourself again and return to your previous level of functioning. (If a person who isn’t depressed takes antidepressants, they do not improve that person’s mood or functioning – it’s not a “happy pill.”) Rarely, people experience apathy or loss of emotions while on certain antidepressants.

(Get More Info)

Do antidepressants do anything if you’re not depressed?

There is new reason to be cautious about using popular antidepressants in people who are not really depressed. For the first time, research has shown that a widely used antidepressant may cause subtle changes in brain structure and function when taken by those who are not depressed.

(Get More Info)

Depression: Should I Take an Antidepressant?

Depression: Should I Take an Antidepressant?You may want to have a say in this decision, or you may simply want to follow your doctor’s recommendation. Either way, this information will help you understand what your choices are so that you can talk to your doctor about them.Depression: Should I Take an Antidepressant?1Get theFacts2CompareOptions3YourFeelings4YourDecision5QuizYourself6Your SummaryGet the factsYour optionsTake antidepressants to treat depression.Don’t take antidepressants.If you’re pregnant, there may be other issues that affect your decision. Pregnant women need to be more careful about taking antidepressants. Key points to rememberTaking medicine for your depression can help you get your life back to normal, especially if you also get counselling. But if your symptoms are mild, lifestyle changes and counselling may be all you need.You don’t need to be ashamed about taking antidepressants. Depression is a health problem, not a character flaw or weakness. The medicines won’t change your personality. Antidepressants don’t work right away. And you may need to try a few before you find one that works.Side effects are one reason that people stop taking antidepressants. But talk to your doctor. There are many ways to manage side effects. And lowering the dose or changing medicines may also help.The thought of needing to take medicine for a long time can be scary. But many people are able to slowly stop taking antidepressants after a while.FAQsThe symptoms of depression include a loss of interest in daily activities or feeling sad or hopeless and having at least four of the following symptoms:A change in eating patterns that causes either weight gain or weight loss Sleeping too much or not enoughFeeling restless and unable to sit still, or feeling that moving takes a great effortFeeling tired all the timeFeeling unworthy or guilty without an obvious reasonHaving problems concentrating, remembering, or making decisionsThinking often about death or suicideIn general, antidepressants increase the level of certain chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. This helps improve communication between brain cells over time, which can help you feel better.There are several kinds of antidepressants. There is no evidence that one works better than another. But the side effects are different.Antidepressants don’t change your personality. They help your symptoms.You don’t need to be ashamed about taking antidepressants. Depression is a health problem, not a character flaw or weakness.Most people are able to find an antidepressant that helps their depression. But you may have to try a few before you find one that works for you. The right medicine is one that helps your symptoms and has the fewest side effects.You may start to feel better within 1 to 3 weeks after you start taking an antidepressant. But you may need to take it for as long as 6 to 8 weeks to see more improvement. It’s best to keep taking your medicine for at least 6 months after you feel better. If this is not the first time you have been depressed, your doctor may want you to take these medicines even longer. The thought of needing to take medicine for a long time can be scary. But many people are able to slowly stop taking antidepressants after a while.Antidepressants can change how you feel and respond in certain situations, but they don’t change who you are. You may feel more relaxed, more social, more assertive, or more outgoing when you are taking an antidepressant. Depression treated only with antidepressants, and not also with therapy, is more likely to come back later.Most antidepressants cause minor side effects that go away or improve in the first few weeks of treatment. If you keep taking your medicine, there is a good chance that you will start to feel less depressed and that the side effects will decrease. Most people feel that the benefits of antidepressants are well worth the price of living with some side effects.Side effects may vary depending on the medicine you take, but common ones include: Nausea. Dry mouth.Loss of appetite. Diarrhea or constipation. Sexual problems (loss of desire, erection problems). Headaches. Trouble…

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How to decide whether to take antidepressants | Psyche Guides

How to decide whether to take antidepressantsIf you are depressed or anxious, and are considering getting some help or treatment including starting antidepressants, a sensible way to proceed is to ask yourself a series of questions about your experiences and circumstances. To help you, here are some important questions to ask yourself, either alone or with a friend, a relative or a doctor, and some factors to consider in each case: Do I need or want any treatment at all? Most cases of depression and anxiety are mild, and most will resolve with time – as people say, time is a great healer. The diagnostic manual of US psychiatry, the DSM-5, states that recovery from major depression begins within three months for 40 per cent of people and within a year for 80 per cent of people. If there is a particular trigger for your chronic feelings of sadness, such as a stressful life event, you might be better off focusing your efforts on getting relevant practical help, such as extra educational, financial or housing support. Similarly, relationship problems might be best addressed by some form of couples therapy. One tell-tale sign that your main problem is stressful circumstances and not depression per se is to think about whether you are preoccupied by the stressful situation rather than with any symptoms related to depression or anxiety. Having said that, when the stress of life circumstances feels overwhelming, antidepressants can still offer valuable help by providing you with much-needed relief from depression-related symptoms such as insomnia and fatigue. This is particularly true if you have a history of depression that needed antidepressants before, or if the symptoms persist. Would I be better off with a talking therapy? Mild to moderate depression and anxiety are often best treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or some other evidence-based, structured psychotherapy, such as interpersonal therapy (IPT). CBT tends to focus on ways to address patterns of negative thinking, whereas IPT focuses more on difficulties you might be having with other people. Indeed, in England in 2021, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which provides independent, evidence-based guidance to the government, issued a renewed draft guideline for treating depression in adults, which stressed that talking-based treatments should be the first choice for addressing mild to moderate depression. The problem is finding a trained therapist with the time to treat you. In Edinburgh in Scotland where I work, and where services are relatively good by international standards, there are only a small number of clinical psychologists, nurses or other health professionals who are trained to provide CBT or IPT. Clearly, they could not treat all the estimated 50,000 people with depression/anxiety each year (of a population of roughly 500,000) who might benefit. In fact, each typically treats 10-20 people a week for about 3-6 months – ie, a maximum of about 100 people a year. Wherever you live in the world, the chances are high that, if you are seeking psychotherapy for mild to moderate depression, you will likely have to find private psychotherapy, if you can afford it. In my experience, most private therapists provide counselling, or what might best be called generic or supportive psychotherapy, often with a psychodynamic orientation. This can still help, especially in those who cannot engage with CBT, but arguably most of the benefit comes from non-specific factors such as ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, general support, and the inculcation of hope. In my experience, they are less likely to offer structured psychotherapies, such as CBT and IPT, which have been shown in multiple clinical trials to have benefits over these non-specific therapeutic factors, as have antidepressants. There is some evidence that CBT or IPT may provide some greater longer-term benefits than antidepressants. This isn’t surprising if one considers that these approaches give people ways of dealing with…

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Overview – Antidepressants – NHS

Overview – Antidepressants Antidepressants are a type of medicine used to treat clinical depression.They can also be used to treat a number of other conditions, including:obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)generalised anxiety disorderpost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)Antidepressants are also sometimes used to treat people with long-term (chronic) pain.Read more about when antidepressants are used. How antidepressants work It’s not known exactly how antidepressants work.It’s thought they work by increasing levels of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and noradrenaline, are linked to mood and emotion.Neurotransmitters may also affect pain signals sent by nerves, which may explain why some antidepressants can help relieve long-term pain.While antidepressants can treat the symptoms of depression, they do not always address its causes. This is why they’re usually used in combination with therapy to treat more severe depression or other mental health conditions. How effective are antidepressants? Research suggests that antidepressants can be helpful for people with moderate or severe depression.They’re not usually recommended for mild depression, unless other treatments like talking therapy have not helped. Doses and duration of treatment Antidepressants are usually taken in tablet form. When they’re prescribed, you’ll start on the lowest possible dose thought necessary to improve your symptoms.Antidepressants usually need to be taken for 1 or 2 weeks (without missing a dose) before the benefit starts to be felt. It’s important not to stop taking them if you get some mild side effects early on, as these effects usually wear off quickly.If you take an antidepressant for 4 weeks without feeling any benefit, speak to your GP or mental health specialist. They may recommend increasing your dose or trying a different medicine.A course of treatment usually lasts for at least 6 months after you start to feel better. Some people with recurrent depression may be advised to take them indefinitely.Read more about antidepressant dosages. Side effects Different antidepressants can have a range of different side effects. Always check the information leaflet that comes with your medicine to see what the possible side effects are.The most common side effects of antidepressants are usually mild. Side effects should improve within a few days or weeks of treatment, as the body gets used to the medicine.Read more about:possible side effects of antidepressantscautions and interactions of antidepressants Coming off antidepressants Talk to your doctor before you stop taking antidepressants. It’s important that you do not stop taking antidepressants suddenly.Once you’re ready to come off antidepressants, your doctor will probably recommend reducing your dose gradually over several weeks – or longer, if you have been taking them for a long time.This is to help prevent any withdrawal symptoms you might get as a reaction to coming off the medicine.Read more about stopping or coming off antidepressants. Types of antidepressants There are several different types of antidepressants.Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)SSRIs are the most widely prescribed type of antidepressants. They’re usually preferred over other antidepressants, as they cause fewer side effects. An overdose is also less likely to be serious.Fluoxetine is probably the best known SSRI (sold under the brand name Prozac). Other SSRIs include citalopram (Cipramil), escitalopram (Cipralex), paroxetine (Seroxat) and sertraline (Lustral).Serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)SNRIs are similar to SSRIs. They were designed to be a more effective antidepressant than SSRIs. However, the evidence that SNRIs are more effective in treating depression is uncertain. It seems that some people respond better to SSRIs, while others respond better to SNRIs.Examples of SNRIs include duloxetine (Cymbalta and Yentreve) and venlafaxine (Efexor).Noradrenaline and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NASSAs)NASSAs may be effective for some people who are unable to take SSRIs. The side effects of NASSAs are similar to those of SSRIs, but they’re thought to cause fewer sexual problems. However, they may also cause more drowsiness at first.The main NASSA prescribed in the UK is mirtazapine (Zispin).Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)TCAs are an older type of antidepressant. They’re no longer usually recommended as the first treatment for depression because they can be more dangerous if an overdose is taken. They also cause more unpleasant side effects than SSRIs and SNRIs.Exceptions are sometimes made for people with severe depression that fail…

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How to Get Antidepressants: Everything You Need to Know

How to Get Antidepressants: Everything You Need to Know Published: March 22, 2022 Updated: September 6, 2022 Published: 03/22/2022 Updated: 09/06/2022 Antidepressants are a frequently prescribed class of prescription medications that are easily obtained. Unlike DEA restricted medications, receiving antidepressants does not require specific steps, and they have become more accessible than ever with the rise of telehealth services. If someone is interested in antidepressants because they think they may have depression or another mental health disorder, it is important to discuss their concerns with a licensed prescriber.If you’re struggling with serious mental illness, finding the right medication can make a difference. Brightside Health treatment plans start at $95 per month. Following a free online evaluation and receiving a prescription, you can get FDA approved medications delivered to your door. Choosing Therapy partners with leading companies and is compensated for referrals by Brightside Health. Do I Need Antidepressants? Deciding if you need antidepressants is not a question you need to answer for yourself. Instead, it is one that is answered after a conversation with your trusted medical or mental health professional. More than 13% of American adults are currently using antidepressants, so if you do need one, know that you’re not alone.1 Antidepressants include a huge variety of newer and older medications that interact with various chemicals in the brain to reduce the frequency, intensity, and duration of unwanted symptoms.2 If you are hoping to address depressive symptoms or believe you have some type of depression, antidepressants may be a good treatment option. You may need an antidepressant medication if you have multiple depressive symptoms that affect your daily functioning. Some of these symptoms include:3 Feeling sad or irritable Sleeping too much or too little Eating too much or too little Feeling tired and unmotivated Struggling to pay attention or make good choices Thinking a lot about death, dying, and suicide Finding little pleasure in activities that used to be fun Antidepressants are not only a medication for depression. Professionals may offer these medications as treatment for people who struggle with the following:2 Anxiety Pain Sleeping problems Attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Trauma-related disorders Your prescriber may utilize standard diagnostic assessments to determine whether antidepressants are the best treatment option for your symptoms, or they may simply listen to your medical history and current symptoms and prescribe based on their judgment. How Can I Get Antidepressants? Though there are numerous antidepressants, one common feature is the need for a prescription. This requirement may seem like a barrier, but since there are very few limits and regulations for antidepressants, they are still easy to obtain. The most straightforward way to get antidepressants is to schedule a visit with your primary care physician (PCP) or mental health prescriber. During the appointment, let them know: What symptoms you are experiencing The presentation and impact of the symptoms That you’re willing to take a medication With this information, your prescriber will determine if they believe an antidepressant is right for you and which one would be best. There are different types of antidepressants with the most common being:4 Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) Atypical antidepressants SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed option, but your symptoms and history may indicate that another choice would be more helpful for you. A person should always honestly discuss their history, side effects, and previous medication trials with their prescriber to find the best medication to fit their individual needs. It is important to note that antidepressants usually take 4-6 weeks to show their full effects so it is important to be patient and continue to check in with your healthcare provider about any side effects or worsening or unresolved symptoms. *These medications have a black box warning, the most serious warning from the FDA for the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in certain people. Before starting any of these medications, you should talk with…

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Should I Take an Antidepressant? 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

Should I Take an Antidepressant? 4 Questions to Ask YourselfYou may have noticed a recent flurry of somewhat alarmist headlines about the long-term implications of being on antidepressants — namely, the difficulty some people have discontinuing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the most common type of antidepressant. But there hasn’t been as much thoughtful talk about how people with depression or anxiety actually decide to start these medications in the first place and the specific problems they’re seeking to address when they do.Of course, there are certain clear indicators someone should seek the counsel of a psychiatrist to discuss medication, including suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and feeling unsafe. On the flip side, there are also signs that antidepressants may not be a great idea for a given patient: Research suggests that they can worsen bipolar II disorder symptoms, for example, while a patient’s history of adverse reactions to certain medications may lead their health professional to recommend against them.But what if you’re somewhere in a gray area? For example, you may already be doing many of the things understood to help keep anxiety and depression under control, including sleeping enough, exercising, eating well, making time for stress-reducing activities and relationships, and seeing a therapist, yet still feeling like these might not be enough. How do you figure out if an antidepressant such as an SSRI is something you should think about?Psychiatrists say it can be helpful to approach the decision the way you would any other medical treatment. “Anytime you’re taking a medication, there’s going to be potential benefits and also some side effects or risks,” says James Murrough, assistant professor of psychiatry and neuroscience and director of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “It’s a matter of weighing those and deciding if that’s a good fit.”There aren’t hard-and-fast rules about who should go on antidepressants, and everyone should talk to a professional — whether that’s a primary care doctor, clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist — about their individual situation. Still, there are a few key questions that can help guide the decision process, according to professionals and patients. Here are four of them.1. How much of a struggle is your day-to-day?When a new patient walks into the office of Larissa Mooney, a board-certified psychiatrist and associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, Mooney’s first question is about how much their anxiety or depression is getting in the way of the basics: eating, sleeping, getting up in the morning, and getting through the day. She wants to find out, she says, the extent to which their symptoms are “interfering with the ability to take care of themselves and complete daily tasks.”Chicago-based teacher Karen first thought about going on antidepressants when she was 25. She had an unusually tough new class to teach, and her depression and anxiety started keeping her home from her job even though exercise, journaling, and regular therapy sessions had previously helped keep her symptoms in check. “I called out sick and missed a week of school,” she remembers. “I was feeling really desperate… I thought, At this point, my job is affected.”For Christine, it was increasingly frequent panic attacks during her first year of grad school in Reno that led her to consider medication. She had been seeing a therapist at the university clinic, trying out new diets, working out, and forcing herself to socialize, but she was still struggling. “I was…

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Antidepressants: Selecting one that's right for you – Mayo Clinic

Antidepressants: Selecting one that’s right for you Confused by the choice in antidepressants? With persistence, you and your doctor should find one that works so that you can enjoy life more fully again.By Mayo Clinic Staff Antidepressants are a popular treatment choice for depression. Although antidepressants may not cure depression, they can reduce symptoms. The first antidepressant you try may work fine. But if it doesn’t relieve your symptoms or it causes side effects that bother you, you may need to try another. So don’t give up. A number of antidepressants are available, and chances are you’ll be able to find one that works well for you. And sometimes a combination of medications may be an option. Finding the right antidepressant There are a number of antidepressants available that work in slightly different ways and have different side effects. When prescribing an antidepressant that’s likely to work well for you, your doctor may consider: Your particular symptoms. Symptoms of depression can vary, and one antidepressant may relieve certain symptoms better than another. For example, if you have trouble sleeping, an antidepressant that’s slightly sedating may be a good option. Possible side effects. Side effects of antidepressants vary from one medication to another and from person to person. Bothersome side effects, such as dry mouth, weight gain or sexual side effects, can make it difficult to stick with treatment. Discuss possible major side effects with your doctor or pharmacist. Whether it worked for a close relative. How a medication worked for a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, can indicate how well it might work for you. Also, if an antidepressant has been effective for your depression in the past, it may work well again. Interaction with other medications. Some antidepressants can cause dangerous reactions when taken with other medications. Pregnancy or breast-feeding. A decision to use antidepressants during pregnancy and breast-feeding is based on the balance between risks and benefits. Overall, the risk of birth defects and other problems for babies of mothers who take antidepressants during pregnancy is low. Still, certain antidepressants, such as paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), may be discouraged during pregnancy. Work with your doctor to find the best way to manage your depression when you’re expecting or planning on becoming pregnant. Other health conditions. Some antidepressants may cause problems if you have certain mental or physical health conditions. On the other hand, certain antidepressants may help treat other physical or mental health conditions along with depression. For example, venlafaxine (Effexor XR) may relieve symptoms of anxiety disorders and bupropion may help you stop smoking. Other examples include using duloxetine (Cymbalta) to help with pain symptoms or fibromyalgia, or using amitriptyline to prevent migraines. Cost and health insurance coverage. Some antidepressants can be expensive, so it’s important to ask if there’s a generic version available and discuss its effectiveness. Also find out whether your health insurance covers antidepressants and if there are any limitations on which ones are covered. Types of antidepressants Certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are associated with depression — particularly serotonin (ser-o-TOE-nin), norepinephrine (nor-ep-ih-NEF-rin) and dopamine (DOE-puh-meen). Most antidepressants relieve depression by affecting these neurotransmitters, sometimes called chemical messengers, which aid in communication between brain cells. Each type (class) of antidepressant affects these neurotransmitters in slightly different ways. Many types of antidepressant medications are available to treat depression, including: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Doctors often start by prescribing an SSRI. These medications generally cause fewer bothersome side effects and are less likely to cause problems at higher therapeutic doses than other types of antidepressants are. SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa) and escitalopram (Lexapro). Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Examples of SNRI medications include duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor XR), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) and levomilnacipran (Fetzima). Atypical antidepressants. These medications don’t fit neatly into any of the…

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How To Get Antidepressants – Hers

How To Get Antidepressants | hersMedically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNPWritten by Our Editorial TeamLast updated 05/12/2021When you’re depressed, asking for help can be difficult. Really, it can be difficult to do anything when you’re under a constant cloud of depression. But whether it’s finding a therapist to talk to or medications to help lift that cloud, even slightly, asking for help is an important first step in the process of feeling better.There are an estimated 300 million people around the world who suffer from depression. The disorder doesn’t discriminate — it affects men, women and nonbinary; all races, nationalities and socioeconomic statuses. And it can be debilitating.Antidepressants are considered a first-line treatment in the battle against depression, and are often prescribed alongside psychotherapy, or therapy online. They can be an effective tool in the fight against this disease. Do You Need Antidepressants? A doctor or mental health professional can help determine whether or not your condition warrants medication for the treatment of depression. But having some idea of whether or not an antidepressant may work for you ahead of time can be helpful. Seeking care is difficult, but being informed can help push your confidence to a place where it’s easier to ask for help.online mental health assessmentyour mental health journey starts hereAntidepressants are largely prescribed for people who suffer from a diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD). MDD is defined as having that depressed, sad mood nearly all day, every day, for at least two weeks. In order to receive a diagnosis of MDD, at least four other symptoms of depression are required from the following list: Sleep disruptionWeight gain or weight lossTrouble making decisionsSuicidal thoughts or frequent thoughts about deathThe slowing down or speeding up of movementFeelings of worthlessnessFatigueA healthcare provider uses this list to determine whether your condition warrants a diagnosis, and then, whether antidepressants are the right choice given your symptoms.Of course, the severity, length, and presence of these symptoms vary widely from person to person. Some people struggle with depression for years before getting help, while others may experience shorter periods of it throughout their life. Whether you struggle with a history of depression, recurrent depression that comes and goes or even if this is your first experience with the disorder, antidepressants may be an effective treatment.It’s important to note, antidepressants may also be prescribed to help manage anxiety disorders, pain and sleep disorders such as insomnia. But, by and large, they’re prescribed as a treatment for depression.All antidepressants are prescription medications. Most often, this means you have to make an appointment with a healthcare professional to talk about how you’re feeling, receive a diagnosis and then receive a prescription to get filled at the pharmacy. However, you can also go through this process online, making a difficult conversation slightly easier because you’re in the comfort of your own home. However you choose to talk with the prescribing physician, they’ll be looking to ensure they’re prescribing the right depression medication at the right dose, so will ask you about your symptoms and medical history.Types of Antidepressants There are three main types of antidepressants most commonly prescribed today”Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)Bupropion®. Older antidepressants such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tetracyclics, and tricyclics are less commonly used, as these newer varieties cause fewer side effects.Common SSRIs include citalopram (Celexa)®, escitalopram (Lexapro®), fluoxetine online (Prozac®), sertraline online (Zoloft®), paroxetine (Paxil®) and others. You can buy citalopram online…

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How Long Should You Take Antidepressants? – WebMD

How Long Should You Take Antidepressants? Menu If you start to feel better while taking antidepressants, you may wonder how long you should take this medication or whether you can stop.Expert guidelines about antidepressants can be confusing. They depend on a variety of factors, including:The type of prescription you takeYour dosageThe number of depressive episodes you’ve hadYour risk of relapseWhether it’s a good idea to stop depends on you.“We know that taking antidepressants for too short a time might pose real risks for some people, but for others, taking them for longer could be more than you need,” says David Baron, a psychiatrist and provost of the Western University of Health Sciences in California.“This decision needs to be made with a professional, just as a patient who takes insulin or chemotherapy would have specific discussions with their specialist,” he says. “Antidepressants can and do work, but they should be used like any other medication.”If you and your doctor decide it’s time to stop, you’ll need to know the best way to do it and how to avoid possible side effects.When to StopUnder American Psychiatric Association guidelines, if you are taking an antidepressant for your first depressive episode, you should stay on it for at least 4 or 5 months after your symptoms of depression stop. Keep in mind that you may need to try several different antidepressants to find the right option for you, and even then, it can take 2 or 3 weeks to see an initial improvement. After that, it can take 3 to 6 months for symptoms to improve to the point that you are no longer depressed. Altogether, this could mean taking a prescription for about a year to get the full benefits.If you have ongoing major depressive disorder, or you have had three or more depressive episodes, the APA recommends treatment for at least a few years. Doctors may also recommend longer treatment when the risk of relapse is high.This can depend on a few factors including your:Family history of mental illnessOther long-term medical or mental health problemsOngoing symptoms while you’re on medicationOngoing stressors, such as trouble sleeping or work or relationship problems“Decide with your doctor what you expect to gain and improve from taking medication,” Baron says. “Poor sleep, low energy and low self-esteem symptoms might respond to medication, but antidepressants don’t take care of relationship problems.”How to StopIf you decide to stop taking antidepressants, don’t quit taking them on your own. And don’t stop all at once. A major drop in medication levels can trigger a relapse or other harmful symptoms, such as suicidal thoughts.Work with your doctor to create a plan to gradually reduce your medication dose over time. Every antidepressant enters and exits the body at a different speed. It may take several weeks to decrease medication levels safely. During this process, you should schedule regular follow-ups so your doctor can closely monitor you for any side effects or signs of relapse.You may also want to schedule sessions with a therapist to deal with other life issues, such as grief, low self-esteem, or negative thinking that may control your mood.“Cognitive therapy can help people reexamine the accuracy of their negative beliefs, which can relieve their distress,” says Steven Hollon, a professor of psychiatry who researches…

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Fears and Facts About Antidepressants – WebMD

Antidepressants: Fears and Facts Menu By Mary Anne DunkinAlong with psychotherapy, antidepressants are a common treatment for depression. Four out of 10 people treated with antidepressants improve with the first one they try. If the first antidepressant medication doesn’t help, the second or third often will. Most people eventually find one that works for them. Yet many people who could benefit from an antidepressant never try one, often because of fears about them, experts say.Here are eight common fears about antidepressants, as well as facts that can help you and your doctor decide if an antidepressant is right for you.Fear:Antidepressants make you forget your problems rather than deal with them.Fact: Antidepressants can’t make you forget your problems, but they may make it easier for you to deal with them. Being depressed can distort your perception of your problems and sap you of the energy to address difficult issues. Many therapists report that when their patients take antidepressants, it helps them make more progress in psychotherapy. Fear: Antidepressants change your personality or turn you into a zombie.Fact: When taken correctly, antidepressants will not change your personality. They will help you feel like yourself again and return to your previous level of functioning. (If a person who isn’t depressed takes antidepressants, they do not improve that person’s mood or functioning – it’s not a “happy pill.”) Rarely, people experience apathy or loss of emotions while on certain antidepressants. When this happens, lowering the dose or switching to a different antidepressant may help.Fear: Taking an antidepressant will make me gain weight.Fact: Like all drugs, antidepressants have side effects, and weight gain can be a common one of many of them. Some antidepressants may be more likely than others to cause weight gain; others may actually cause you to lose some weight. If this is a concern, talk with your doctor.Fear: If I start taking antidepressants, I’ll have to take them for the rest of my life.Fact: Most people who take antidepressants for a first-time episode of depression need to take them continuously for six to nine months, not necessarily a lifetime. Once an antidepressant gets depression under control, you should work with your doctor to decide when to stop your medication and then decrease your dose gradually. Discontinuing them suddenly may cause problems such as headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Fear: Antidepressants will destroy my sex life.Fact: Some antidepressants can have an effect on sex. The problem is usually in having an orgasm rather than a lack of desire. But because depression itself decreases libido, a medication that eases depression may improve your sex life. As with other side effects, certain antidepressants may be more likely than others to cause sexual problems.Fear: Antidepressants are expensive and aren’t covered by insurance.Fact: Antidepressants are usually covered by insurance plans with prescription drug coverage. The cost of antidepressants varies widely, depending on the dosage, the drug you are taking, and whether it is available as a generic. Even without insurance coverage, it is possible to purchase a generic antidepressant for as little as $4 per month.Fear: Taking an antidepressant is a sign of weakness.Fact: Like medical conditions such as diabetes or high cholesterol, major depression is a condition that often responds to medication. When depression interferes with your ability to function normally, seeking treatment is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of good self-care. Fear: Antidepressants increase the risk of suicide.Fact: Studies in recent years have raised concerns that antidepressants may raise…

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