Provides guidelines to reduce problems and get the most benefit from taking antidepressants. Covers what you need to know about antidepressants, side effects, and risks. Covers how to take medicine wisely.
Depression: Taking Antidepressants Safely
your doctor has prescribed antidepressants, there are some important things you
need to know about how to take them. Following these guidelines can reduce
problems and help you get the most benefit from your medicine.
Antidepressants work best when you take them
exactly as your doctor prescribes them. This also helps reduce side effects.
You may start to feel better within 1 to 3 weeks after you start
to take an antidepressant. If you have not improved at all in 3 weeks, your doctor may increase your dose or have you try a different medicine.
Antidepressants can cause side
effects, but most of them are mild and go away after you take the medicine for
a few weeks.
Taking an antidepressant for at least 6 months after
you feel better can help keep you from getting depressed again.
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.
Quitting antidepressants suddenly
can cause withdrawal symptoms or cause depression to return. If you are having
a problem with your medicine or are ready to quit taking antidepressants, work
with your doctor to slowly reduce the dose over a period of a few weeks.
How to take antidepressant medicine wisely
Learn about your medicine
To get the best results
from an antidepressant medicine, you need to take it just as prescribed. Be
sure you know:
The name and dose of your
How often you need to take it.
How to take
it. For example, should you take it with a meal or just with a glass of
What to do if you miss a dose. Should you take it when you
remember, or should you wait for the next dose?
When you pick up your medicine at the drugstore, read the
information sheet that comes with it. This will list the side effects and other
important facts. If there is anything you don't understand, ask the pharmacist
to explain it.
Take it as prescribed
Try to take your medicine at the same time each
day so you get in the habit.
Use a pillbox that holds a week's
worth of pills. This can help prevent overdose.
If you have not
improved at all after taking your medicine for 3 weeks, tell your doctor. You
may need to try a different antidepressant.
Take your medicine
for as long as your doctor says to. Don't stop taking it just because you start
to feel better.
When it is time to quit taking antidepressants,
work closely with your doctor. You will need to slowly reduce the dose over a
period of a few weeks. Quitting suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms or cause
depression to return.
Know what to avoid
Do not take any new medicines without talking
to your doctor first. Even common medicines such as aspirin and some vitamins
and herbs can cause problems if you use them while you are taking
Do not drink alcohol. It can make the side
Know about the side effects
Do not stop taking your medicine if you have mild side effects. They
will most likely go away after you take the medicine for a few weeks.
If the side effects bother you, talk with your doctor. He or she may
prescribe a different medicine or suggest ways to manage your side effects.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.