There is some debate as to whether antidepressant medication is addictive, and whether it could cause suicidal thoughts. We strongly suggest you discuss this issue with your doctor, as they should have up-to-date information.
If you go to a doctor and ask for treatment for depression, it's possible that you will be given antidepressant medication. The authors of this site believe medication can help a lot of people who are depressed, in combination with some form of therapy.
As with any medication, you should follow the advice of your doctor closely about dosage, length of time to be taking the pills, drug interactions, things to avoid while taking the medication, and anything else he or she tells you. Make sure your doctor knows what other medications you are taking as some drugs should not be combined. If you have any questions about your medication, please talk to your doctor.
General information about anti depressant medication
Anti-depressants work by altering the level of various chemicals in the brain that are used to transmit signals from neuron to neuron. If levels of the chemicals (called neurotransmitters) are low, the signal may arrive weakly or not arrive at all, and depression can result. A bereavement can bring on depression simply by exhausting the supply of neurotransmitters. In those cases, anti-depressants will work very well.
The medication can take a while to get working, anything from two to eight weeks depending on the drug. After you have got past that time, you may begin to see some effects. Sometimes it is necessary to change medication to find one that works best, though you will need to be past the "not working" stage to assess this. Anti-depressants may have to be taken for months, or even years. Your doctor will advise you on how long to take them in your own case.
This is likely to be the topic uppermost in people's minds when they are prescribed medication. Most drugs come with a long list of potential side effects gathered as a result of clinical trials involving perhaps thousands of people.
When faced with such a list, it can be a little daunting, not to mention scary. However, you have to remember that it is unlikely that any one person will suffer all the side effects listed. Far more common would be for a person to have a select handful of side effects which probably fade after a few weeks. Your doctor can advise you about what side efects you can expect.
Sources of more information
All the information you could possibly want on the medication you've been prescribed is out on the Web. Somewhere...
The search engines are quite a good starting place. Bear in mind that you may have to search for the chemical name, not the brand name. Brand names can differ between countries (i.e. Seroxat in the UK is known as Paxil in the US), so it is worth looking under the chemical name (paroxetine in the case of Paxil/Seroxat) as that does not change.
We have listed a few of places on the Other Web Sites page that link to pharmacological and psychopharmacological listings. These sites explain what side effects you can expect and what the chemical actually does. Some sites contain much more information as well.
It is also worth knowing the class of anti-depressant you are looking for, because they can work in different ways and affect different neurotransmitters. These are some of the common classes:
- SSRI - Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
- MAOI - Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
- Tricyclic or tetracyclic