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Depression Health Center

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How Long Should You Take Antidepressants?

Types of Antidepressants and Their Side Effects continued...

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed antidepressant medication. They tend to be well tolerated and effective.

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are a newer class of antidepressants and are similar to SSRIs. They are also commonly prescribed to treat depression.

Possible side effects for both SSRIs and SNRIs include:

Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (bupropion) have no sexual side effects, unlike many other antidepressants. Possible side effects of these popular medicines are:

Tricyclics are an older class of depression medications that are prescribed less often because of more serious side effects. For example, people with heart disease, congestive heart failure, and arrhythmia should avoid them. Generally, they are only prescribed for people who not respond to treatment with newer antidepressants. Possible side effects include:

Monamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are also older antidepressants that are usually only prescribed for people who do not respond to other drugs for depression. They may also benefit people who have unusual symptoms such as excessive sleeping, hypochondria, or high levels of anxiety. People who take MAOIs must restrict their diet in order to avoid serious complications. They should avoid pickled, smoked, or fermented foods as well as certain beverages and medications. Possible side effects include:

Dealing With the Side Effects of Antidepressants

When starting these medicines, it’s important to work closely with your doctor so that she can monitor any side effects and how well the medication is working. If you have side effects from one medication, never stop taking it without first talking with your doctor. Brendel says that options for dealing with side effects include:

  • Reducing the dosage of the medicine
  • Adding an additional medication that helps ease the side effects
  • Switching to another medication

People with severe depression and their families should also be aware of the risk for suicide when starting to take antidepressants. The medication itself does not cause adults to become suicidal. But it does help people regain energy and make decisions more easily even while they are still seriously depressed. This may make it easier for a person who is thinking about suicide to take action. If you are having any suicidal thoughts or feelings, work with your mental health provider to put a plan in place in case you start to have difficulty.

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