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How Your Depression Medicine Can Affect Your Life

What Side Effects Do Antidepressant Medicines Cause?

Like all medications, antidepressants can have side effects. Some of the most common include:

  • Headache
  • Agitation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sleeplessness
  • Drowsiness
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Dry mouth
  • Weight gain

Some antidepressants are more likely than others to cause certain side effects. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) generally have fewer side effects than older types of medications such as tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

Because medications affect every person differently, however, it’s difficult to know what side effects you may experience until you take one. If you’re concerned about any particular side effect, such as weight gain or nausea, tell your doctor. She may be able to prescribe a medication that is less likely to cause that side effect. 

How Long Do the Side Effects of Depression Medicine Last?

Many side effects last only for a few days or weeks and then get better. Others may continue until you stop taking the medicine. If the side effects are severe or are a problem for you, talk with your doctor. He may be able to find a way to help reduce them -- by having you take the medicine at a different time of day, for example -- or switch you a different medication.

It’s important not to stop taking a medication without talking with your doctor. If you stop it suddenly, you may feel sick or have headaches or dizziness. Your doctor can help you decrease your dose over time to stop your medication safely.

How Long Will I Need to Take Antidepressant Medication?

This depends on your depression. Most people need to take depression medication for at least six to nine months, but you may need to take it longer, even if you feel better. Some people take antidepressants for several years. Your doctor can help you decide when it’s the right time to stop and can work with you to stop gradually.

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Reviewed on July 09, 2010

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