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Antidepressants Questions & Answers

How do antidepressants work?

Antidepressants help restore the balance of important chemicals in the brain that affect your mood.

Are antidepressants addictive?

No. Antidepressants are not addictive or habit-forming, and they do not give you a “high.”

How long will it take before my medication starts working?

Antidepressants are different from cold medicines or pain relievers. It can take a few weeks before they begin to work. And you should continue to take the medication, even if you are feeling better, to prevent the depression from returning.

In many cases, sleep and appetite are the first things to improve. It may take a little longer for mood and energy to improve.1

If you do not improve after about six weeks, you can talk with your doctor about changing the dose or trying a different drug.

1 National Institute of Mental Health. What is Depression? Accessed November 4, 2014.  

How long will I have to take the antidepressant?

Once you feel better, you will probably stay on the medication for another four to nine months.  But every person is different. So it is important to speak with your doctor before you stop taking medication.

What should I do if I forget to take a dose of the medication?

Take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take a double dose unless you clear it with your doctor.

Can I drink alcohol while on antidepressants?

Ask your doctor first. Alcohol can sometimes cause a bad reaction when mixed with antidepressants, or make you feel worse.

Is it safe to take antidepressants with other medications?

In most cases, the answer is yes. However, talk with your doctor about anything else you are taking. This includes other prescription drugs, as well as vitamins and over-the-counter drugs. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you which drugs are safe to take with antidepressants.

Can I stop taking the medication once I start feeling better?

Talk with your doctor if you feel ready to stop taking your antidepressant.

You should not stop taking the antidepressant on your own. This sometimes causes withdrawal symptoms. Or your depression could come back.

Your body took time to adjust when you started taking your antidepressant. Your body also needs time to adjust when you stop taking it.

Can an antidepressant help me with other problems?

Antidepressants can sometimes help with some other conditions, such as anxiety.  Your doctor can discuss this with you and decide whether an antidepressant might be appropriate.

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