Antidepressants work by improving the balance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. In people with depression, the cells in the brain do not access the correct amount of these chemical messengers. But, by taking antidepressants the right combination of chemicals become more available to brain cells.
Antidepressants: When Do You Get Cured?
They work well, especially when used along with psychotherapy. The combination is thought to be slightly more effective than either type of treatment alone. Most people on these medications report eventual improvements in symptoms such as sadness, loss of interest, and hopelessness.
But, be aware that these drugs do not work right away. It may take 1 to 3 weeks before you start to slightly better. And, even longer before you get the full benefit. Also, realize that some people don’t improve with antidepressants and may need to try other treatments.
If your symptoms don’t improve after 4 to 6 weeks, tell your doctor. You may need a higher dose or a different medicine.
Some people do not respond to the first medication they try but will respond to a different medicine. Remember, it maytake up to 3 months to feel the full benefits.
Antidepressants: Are Generics Okay?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is no difference in the strength, safety, or quality of generic vs. brand-name drugs.
Antidepressants: Duration And Side Effects
A successful course of treatment usually lasts several months to a year. Don’t quit, even if you feel better sooner. If you do, it’s possible your depression will come back.
Most if not all medications have side effects. 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.
Antidepressants: Drug Interactions
Antidepressants used most often today have fewer side effects and drug interactions than older versions. Still, any medication 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.
Let your doctor know about any new prescription drug, over-the-counter medicine, or dietary supplement you plan to take.
A typical course of antidepressants lasts 6 to 12 months. Antidepressants are not physically addictive but should not be stopped abruptly.
Antidepressants: Consider Psychotherapy
Getting psychotherapy while you take these medications can be a more effective way to treat depression, studies show.
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.
Antidepressants: Exercise Does Help You
Exercise releases endorphins, chemicals linked to improved mood and lower rates of depression.
Several studies suggest regular exercise, without medicine, is an effective treatment for mild depression. Exercise can also help your medicine work better. Group sessions or exercising with a partner may be particularly helpful.
Proper nutrition helps to reduce anxiety and depression and will boost your medication’s effectiveness. Stay away from sugars, refined flour, caffeine, alcohol, and gluten. You may experience some withdrawal at the beginning, but your body will re-calibrate and you’ll be fine.