How to Take Antidepressant Medicine

Serious depression, known as Major Depressive Disorder, effects about five percent of the population. Another ten percent will suffer a serious depressive episode, which may require medical treatment. Antidepressants, developed in the 1960s, can be an effective treatment option for about 1/3 of patients. However, patients are often not informed of the risks involved, or how to properly use the medication.

Steps

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    Research the medication. If you are experiencing difficulty concentrating or completing tasks, have a friend or family member look up the medication for you and read you the important points. Here are some important factors to look at:
    • How long has this drug been on the market?
    • What are the common side effects?
    • Any food or drug interactions?
    • What type of antidepressant is it? (Types are listed in the "Tips" section).
    • What does the drug do?
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    Consult your doctor, who should be able to discuss the pros and cons of drug treatment. You will want to involve your psychiatrist or therapist in this decision as well.
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    Alert your friends and family about your new treatment.
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    Try a small dose first to check for reactions. Some people have intolerable side effects, such as intense vertigo or heart arrhythmias.
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    Gradually increase your dose until you've reached the prescribed dosage. It make take up to four weeks to see any positive effects from the drug. However, you should be prepared to switch medicines if the first drug proves ineffective.
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    Set a timeline for stopping the drug. This should be done with your doctor. Some people may not be able to go off the medication.

Tips

  • Types of antidepressants are:
    • MAO inhibitors (or MAOIs), which inhibit the breakdown of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline). This is the oldest variety of drug.
    • Tricyclic antidepressants, which act on the transmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
    • SSRIs, which act on serotonin alone. This is the most widely used variety.
    • SNRIs, which act on seratonin and norepinephrine. These are the newest variety of antidepressants. Though highly effective, these have also been associated with more dangerous side effects.
  • Some depression and emotional health problems maybe caused by a vitamin/mineral deficiency. Take some supplements and you may improve.

Warnings

  • If you're considering self-harm in any way, seek immediate help.
  • Some of these medicines have serious side effects. Make sure you're fully aware of any risks.
  • Have family, friends, and medical professionals observe for any strange behavior. Some people react to the drug with extreme (and potentially dangerous) behavioral changes.
  • Make sure your doctor is aware of any other medications you're taking.

Article Info

Categories: Taking Pills and Medicine