If you’re struggling with depression or having difficulty getting out of an emotional funk, your doctor or therapist may recommend that you start on antidepressants.
While many people can be against the idea of using a medication to heal depression and would prefer natural methods instead, SSRIs like antidepressants often work well for helping your body find balance again and making things easier while you get things back on track.
If you’re considering going on antidepressants, this is what you should know before you make the decision to start medication and as you first start taking the pills.
1. Finding the right medication takes time
Although it would be nice to have the first prescription of antidepressants you try be the one for you, this usually isn’t the case. Instead, it’s common that you won’t find the right prescription until at least the third try, but some people try 10 different types of antidepressants and dosages before they find their match.
Don’t be discouraged if the antidepressants you’re initially prescribed don’t work! If you’re struggling with side effects or just don’t love how they make you feel, talk to your doctor and see what you can do to adjust this.
2. Communicate with your doctor, and be honest
When starting on antidepressants, it’s important to maintain communication with your doctor throughout the process. Doctors have likely prescribed SSRIs to hundreds of patients, so they will be able to tell you whether the symptoms you’re having are normal or an indication that you may be on the wrong medicine.
Additionally, make sure you’re being honest at your doctor appointments. If you’re struggling or having side effects, clearly communicate what you’re feeling and the extent of it, or else your doctor will not be able to adequately help you.
3. Most medications take 6-8 weeks to work properly
When starting on antidepressants, it’s important to be patient. Most SSRIs won’t start working properly at 6-8 weeks, meaning that for those first weeks, you may be dealing with side effects or strange moods that you may not be dealing with after that adjustment period passes.
Whatever you do, don’t be discouraged while you adjust and keep taking your medication every day. It takes time for the antidepressants to find their way into your system and for your body to adjust, so be conscious of what you’re feeling but don’t rush to any quick judgements.
4. Don’t stop medication without doctor permission
Whether you’re hating how you’re feeling on antidepressants or you’re just bad at remembering to take medication, be sure to take your dosage every day (preferably at the same time each day) and don’t go off your prescription without your doctor’s permission.
If you abruptly stop taking any SSRIs, including antidepressants, you can experience severe physical withdrawal symptoms and side effects, which is why doctors ease their patients off their dosage so their body can adjust. So set a reminder on your phone to take your pill and talk with your doctor if you want to stop instead of making that decision on your own.
5. More people are on antidepressants than you think
It probably doesn’t feel like antidepressants are common in your community or among people your age. However, according to the NHS, one in six 18 to 64-year-olds were prescribed antidepressants at some point last year, and four million people in England are long-term users of antidepressants.
Mental illness has become so taboo that it’s easy to feel alone in your depression, but try to remind yourself that more people take antidepressants than you would ever think, and it’s a common treatment for a range of mental health issues.
6. There’s nothing wrong with taking medication
In a similar vein, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking antidepressants or any other kind of SSRIs to treat your depression! While some people look down on these methods of treatment, antidepressants can help you feel like yourself again and help you get through other forms of treatment.
If taking antidepressants will improve your mental health, why is this cause for criticism? You need to do what is best for you to heal mentally, and physical aids can be a great assistance for this.
7. Antidepressants won’t completely cure your depression
If you’re thinking about starting antidepressants or you’re already taking the medication, it’s important to remember that you won’t find complete bliss and treat your depression just by taking medication. While the right prescription can help you tremendously, you should still be working on other positive treatment methods in addition to taking antidepressants.
Some of these methods can include spending time outside, eating healthy, exercising, talking with a professional, and practising healthy thinking. Regardless, don’t isolate these other positive behaviours when you start taking medication, as antidepressants aren’t a total cure for depression.