Prescription antidepressant medications are an important tool in the medical toolbox for treating depression. This class of medications works because they adjust the balance of chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters. The brains of those who suffer with depression symptoms don’t utilize these chemicals correctly and medications relieve this problem by making these necessary chemicals more easily available to brain cells.
For most people antidepressants are very effective and even more so when used with in combination with therapy sessions (psychotherapy). Although most that are prescribed antidepressants eventually go see improvement in mood, it is an important fact that these drugs take time to work. Mostly, it will take a minimum of two to three weeks before a patient begins to feel better and much longer, as much as three months, to get all the benefits they can offer.
It is also a fact that many patients do not respond well to the first drug prescribed. In these cases, it is the patient’s responsibility to be open and honest with their doctor about their lack of progress so a new dosage or new prescription can be tried. But, at least three weeks should be allowed to determine if a medication is effective.
Always Take Care With Antidepressant Medication
Care must always be taken with any antidepressant medication. Even if the dosage is correct and the medication is performing well patients often are tempted to stop taking the medication without consulting their doctor. Their reasons may be that the schedule of doses may not fit well with their lifestyle or because of unpleasant or unwanted side effects of the medication such as weight gain. The key is to not stop taking medication even if you are feeling better. For most people, it takes up to a year for medication to be completely successful.
If there are unwanted side effects of any medication, let your doctor know immediately. There are effective strategies to help you manage most of them. For example, if taking your depression medication with food causes nausea, schedule your does between meals. If you experience libido or erection difficulties, another type of medication may be able to help. Also, side effects are often worst in the beginning of treatment and many can diminish on their own.
Antidepressant medication can interact with other medicines you are taking, and sometimes even with OTC dietary or herbal supplements. Obviously unwanted drug interactions can cause severe side effects and even reduce the effectiveness of your antidepressant treatment. It is critical that your doctor be aware of any new prescription or OTC medicine, including supplements, which you are taking.
After some time, you and your doctor will have to decide when is the right time for you to stop taking your antidepressant medication. There is a danger that stopping abruptly can cause side effects or, in some cases, even a relapse. Most frequently, you will gradually reduce your dosage over a period of time to prevent such occurrences. During this period you should keep your doctor well informed of any sudden changes you might experience.