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It’s very important you understand that antidepressants are not “happy pills”. They’re not intended to block-out your pain or totally eliminate your feelings. They’re designed to raise the floor of your depression, so that you’re able to get out of bed each morning, and at least function in your personal and professional domains.
Antidepressants are one of the most prescribed medications today but are they all necessary? Most antidepressants work by changing the balance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. In people with depression, these chemicals are not used properly by the brain. Antidepressants can be prescribed by any doctor, but for those people with severe symptoms, they are usually referred to a psychiatrist.
In general, antidepressants work well, especially when used along with psychotherapy. The combination has proven to be the most effective treatment for depression but most people on antidepressants report eventual improvements in symptoms such as sadness, loss of interest, and hopelessness. Types of therapy include cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing negative thoughts and behaviors, and interpersonal therapy, which focuses on your relationships with others.If you’re taking antidepressants alone or without doing inner work, it’s just like slapping a Bandaid on a deep, bleeding gash and expecting it to heal – which never works.
But these drugs do not work right away. It may take up to 3 weeks before you start to feel better and even longer. It’s not common, but some people don’t improve with antidepressants and need to try other treatments with their doctor.
If you don’t feel any change after 4 to 6 weeks, then you need to advise your doctor as you may need a higher dose or a different medicine.
Some people do not respond to the first antidepressant. It can take up to 3 months to feel the full benefit of an antidepressant so you need to be patient but not despaired.
Also, antidepressants may stop working in a small number of people who have been taking them for a while. Don’t quit, even if you feel better sooner. If you do, it’s likely your depression will come back. Talk it over with your doctor as your dosage just may mean adjusting into a maintenance level.
There are often ways to manage them. For example, taking your antidepressant with food can help nausea. If you’re having sexual problems, changing antidepressants may help.
If you feel fatigued, try taking your medicine 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. If the antidepressant causes insomnia, take it in the morning. Many side effects diminish on their own after a few weeks. Any antidepressant can interact with other medications, and even with herbal or dietary supplements. Drug interactions can lead to more severe side effects and reduce how well your medicine works.
Some people worry that antidepressants will leave them robotic. The fact is, antidepressants relieve feelings of sadness, but they do not eliminate your emotions.
Another myth is that you’ll need to take the drugs for life. A typical course of antidepressants lasts 6 to 12 months. Antidepressants are not physically addictive but should not be stopped abruptly.
One very natural guard against depression is exercise since it releases endorphins, chemicals linked to improved mood and lower rates of depression. Exercise can also help your medicine work better. Group sessions or exercising with a partner may be particularly helpful.
You are strongly urged to always check with your doctor about any concerns you have regarding your existing drug regimen or amending it, before initiating any changes.