Depression is typically treated effectively with antidepressant medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. But finding the right depression medication may be challenging for a number of reasons. Mental health professionals take numerous factors into consideration when prescribing an antidepressant including your age, health status, family history and potential interactions with any other medications you may be taking. The type of antidepressant prescribed also involves the particular depression symptoms you may be experiencing. For example, depression sufferers who feel agitated, angry or irritable may benefit from an antidepressant that has a calming effect. In contrast, those who are withdrawn and lethargic may do better with an antidepressant that produces a stimulating effect. The majority of antidepressants are believed to help restore the brains chemical balance of neurotransmitters including serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, which are thought to influence mood, emotions and pain levels. If youve never taken antidepressants, your mental health provider may prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, SSRI, which may have fewer and milder side effects than some other medications. Other types of antidepressants include monoamine oxidase inhibitors, MAOIs, such as Nardil, Parnate and Marplan; and norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors, called NDRIS, such as Wellbutrin or Zyban. Studies suggest only about half of depression sufferers respond to the first antidepressant prescribed. Many researchers recommend taking the initial antidepressant for at least eight weeks, noting that it may take up to 14 weeks to realize a medications full benefits. If your antidepressant isnt working, your mental health provider may first try increasing your dosage. Trying a different antidepressant or adding a second medication may also significantly increase the likelihood of depression symptoms improving, according to a study funded by the national institute of mental health. Depending upon the severity of symptoms, your mental health provider may prescribe an anticonvulsant, anti-psychotic or stimulant, such as Ritalin or Dexedrine, in addition to your antidepressant. There is also evidence to suggest that certain genetic factors may determine whether you respond positively or negatively to a particular type of antidepressant. There may be instances where your antidepressant is helping your depression symptoms, but causing undesirable side effects. If thats the case, talk with your mental health provider about switching to a medication that offers a more optimal balance between symptom relief and minimizing side effects. Its particularly important to openly discuss concerns about antidepressant side effects with your mental health provider, especially problems that are sexually related, which is one of the main reasons many depression sufferers stop taking their medication. While experiencing disturbing side effects or waiting for yet another medication to improve your symptoms can be upsetting, make sure you let your mental health professional know about any problems you may be experiencing, rather than deciding on your own to stop taking your medication. If you stop taking your antidepressant without your mental health providers permission, you may be at risk for your depression symptoms to worsen. Yet another reason to talk with your mental health professional before discontinuing your antidepressant medication the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. This risk is especially critical in children, adolescents and young adults. Experts say finding the right antidepressant is often a process of trial and error. But with patience and perseverance, you and your mental health provider should be able to find the right medication to help you feel good again. Talk with your mental health provider about finding the right antidepressant.
Managing Doses to Increase Success
ICU Risks Associated with Medications
Depression Makes the Pain Worse
Getting By with a Little Help from Friends
Dealing with Depression
More Than Just The Blues
What Should You Take When Pregnant?
Food For (Happy) Thought
Last Updated:December 20, 2012