4 Tips for Taking Antidepressants

Pay close attention to any side effects that you experience when taking antidepressants.
Pay close attention to any side effects that you experience when taking antidepressants.

You may have come to know Zoloft (sertraline), Wellbutrin (bupropion) and Prozac (fluoxetine) from television commercials or you may even take these popular antidepressants (depression medication). There are countless antidepressants on the market, each raking in big bucks.

But, be forewarned that antidepressants also come with huge side effects and dangers. Although there is a lot that you need to know about taking antidepressants, four key aspects will be touched upon in this article.

Taking Steps Toward Well-Being

How much do you know about antidepressants? According to a report released by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the rate of antidepressant use in this country among teens and adults (people ages 12 and older) increased by almost 400% between 1988–1994 and 2005–2008. Recent studies also have raised questions about the effectiveness of antidepressants. Nonetheless, it is evident that medication alone is not enough; you also need to make changes in your lifestyle. Being well-versed about antidepressants and weighing the benefits against the risks can help you make an informed decision about what, if any, antidepressants are right for you.

1. Follow instructions for taking all mediation, but antidepressants, too. Antidepressants may relieve some of your depression symptoms when used under the guidance of a mental health professional. Moreover, be sure to take your antidepressant according to the doctor’s instructions. Don’t alter or skip your dose and don’t stop taking your pills as soon as you begin to feel better.

Why? Stopping treatment prematurely is linked to high relapse rates and may cause serious withdrawal symptoms.

2. Consider speaking with a counselor or therapist about how you feel. Medication can reduce the symptoms of depression, but it does not treat the underlying problem. Psychotherapy can help you get to the root of your depression, change negative thinking patterns and learn new ways of coping with your problem. Remember: Reaching out for help is a sign of strength and not weakness.

3. Keep a watchful eye while taking antidepressants. Particularly, pay close attention to any side effects that you experience. Be sure to keep track of any emotional and physical changes that you are experiencing and talk to your doctor about them. Contact your doctor, counselor or therapist immediately if your depression worsens or if you experience an increase in suicidal thoughts or have suicidal tendencies.

4. Not so fast! Don’t be so quick to select your antidepressant. Be open to finding the right antidepressant for you, which requires a great deal of patience. Finding the right drug and dosage is a trial and error process. It takes approximately four to six weeks for antidepressant medications to reach their full therapeutic effect. Many people try several medications before finding one that helps with their symptoms of depression.

Here is additional information that you need to know about taking antidepressants:

  • Women are 2½ times more likely to take an antidepressant than men.
  • 23% of women in their 40s and 50s take antidepressants.
  • 14% of Caucasians take antidepressants compared with just 4% of African-Americans and 3% of Mexican Americans.
  • Fewer than a third of Americans who are taking single antidepressants have seen a mental health professional in the past year.
  • Antidepressant use does not vary by income status.

Looking at the Big Picture

Your overall health is important, so delve into antidepressants by learning as much as you can about them. What is your take on antidepressants?

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-Kimberly Williams

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