Mental Health

Using medication to treat depression

Antidepressant medicines restore the balance of chemicals (neurotransmitters) naturally present in the human organism and critical to normal brain function. They influence emotions, memory and concentration. Combined with therapy and support from one’s entourage, antidepressants can contribute to healing depression.

Before starting antidepressants, it is important to be aware of certain information: 

  • Check with your pharmacist that the antidepressants (or treatment) in question do not interact with any other medication you may be taking.
  • It can sometimes take several weeks before antidepressants yield a positive effect on mood. Furthermore, once beneficial effects start kicking in, it may be recommended to continue treatment for six to nine months at a minimum. Your doctor can counsel you regarding the best time to stop taking your medication.
  • Do let your doctor know if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms: unusual bursts of energy, mood that swings from feelings of depression to feelings of happiness, unusual irritability, reduced need for sleep. In such cases, mood stabilizers could prove to be a more suitable treatment.
  • Alcohol can aggravate some side effects of antidepressants. But when treatment remains stable, the risks associated with the consumption of alcohol are low. Do note, however, that the effects of alcohol are multiplied when taking antidepressant medicines, i.e., one drink can have the same effect as two or three drinks. If you are undergoing medication therapy against depression, feel free to speak with your pharmacist to check whether drinking alcohol could interfere with your treatment. 

Possible side effects of antidepressant use:

Side effects vary depending on the type of antidepressant medicine used and from one person to another. Here are a few examples:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Sedation
  • Decreased libido and sexual response

If you or any of your loved ones notice that new side effects appear or existing ones are aggravated (anxiety, agitation or hostility) since you started taking antidepressants, contact your pharmacist.

Feel free to speak with your pharmacist regarding solutions to help you alleviate the side effects of your treatment. 

Side effects from suddenly stopping antidepressants: 

Changing the dosage of some antidepressants too suddenly can increase the risk of more episodes of depression or the appearance of withdrawal symptoms. While antidepressants are not addictive, the human body gets used to them after a few months or years of medication therapy.

  • Muscle pain
  • “Pins and needles” or feelings of electrical shock
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Unsteady footing
  • Flu-related symptoms
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Crying fits
  • Irritability

How to stop taking antidepressants: 

It is necessary to work together with healthcare professionals, such as a doctor and a pharmacist, in order to gradually phase out a medication therapy against depression. Some guidelines for upstream reflection could shed some light on your decision-making process: 

  • Is this the right time?
  • Do I feel well?
  • Is the stress in my life at an acceptable level?
  • Am I well rounded and well supported?

In any case, it is critical to discuss matters with your pharmacist to make sure you are minimizing the side effects of stopping your therapy. 

For further information and to get support, speak with your pharmacist or healthcare professional.

This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and pharmacist-owners affiliated with Accès pharma chez Walmart cannot be held responsible for this information. The information was true and accurate at the time of publication, but it is subject to change.

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