Antidepressants help restore the normal balance of brain chemicals. When
these brain chemicals are in balance, your depression gets better.
Be sure your doctor knows about any other health conditions you have and
any medicines you take regularly. This information can affect which
antidepressant your doctor prescribes for you.
There are many
antidepressant medicines, and they affect brain chemistry in different ways.
The first medicine you take may help you feel better. Or you might need to try
a few medicines before you find the one that works best for you.
You may start to feel better within 1 to 3 weeks after you start to take
an antidepressant. But it can take as many as 6 to 8 weeks to see more
improvement. If you have not improved at all after taking an antidepressant for
3 weeks, talk to your doctor. He or she may increase your dose or have you try a different medicine.
Taking an antidepressant for at least 6 months after you feel better can
help keep you from getting depressed again. If this is not the first time you
have been depressed, your doctor may want you to take the medicine even longer.
Side effects may
vary depending on the medicine you take, but common ones include stomach upset,
loss of appetite, diarrhea, feeling anxious or on edge, sleep problems,
drowsiness, loss of sexual desire, and headaches.
effects are mild and will go away after you take the medicine for a few
If your child is
taking antidepressants, make sure to tell your child's doctor about any family
bipolar disorder and to watch your child closely for
manic behavior. Some people who are first diagnosed
with depression turn out to have bipolar disorder, which causes mood swings
from depression to mania. A first episode of mania can happen on its own, but
it can also be triggered by certain medicines, including antidepressants.
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.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory on antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide. Talk to your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide.
Still, for people who are depressed, the benefits of antidepressants are
probably greater than the risks. By relieving depression, antidepressants may
actually reduce the risk of suicide in the long run.
Test Your Knowledge
As soon as you start to feel better, you can slowly
reduce how much medicine you take.
Continue to Why is it important to take antidepressants as prescribed?
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