Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Depression Health Center

Font Size

Coping With Side Effects of Depression Treatment

Find out about the side effects of antidepressants and depression treatment. Learn what you can do about them.
By Arthur Allen
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

If you are being treated for moderate to severe depression, a doctor or psychiatrist has probably prescribed an antidepressant medication for you.  When they work properly, they help to relieve symptoms and, along with other approaches such as talk therapy, are an important part of treatment.

One way antidepressants work is by altering the balance of certain chemicals in your brain. And, as with all medicines, this change can cause side effects. Some, like jitteriness, weird dreams, dry mouth, and diarrhea typically go away after a week or two -- if they don’t, it’s probably best to switch to another drug. Others, like decreased sexual desire, may last longer.

Recommended Related to Depression

Exercise for Depression: How It Helps

Five years ago, after ending a long-term relationship, Anita became seriously depressed. It benched the once-physically active writer, who asked that her last name be withheld to protect her privacy. She stopped running and began gaining weight and falling out of shape. It was not the first time she had been depressed, and traditional therapy had not helped her as much as she had hoped. This time, she sought out someone different. She found Jane Baxter, PhD, a therapist who was able to get her moving...

Read the Exercise for Depression: How It Helps article > >

Not everyone has the same side effects. And a particular antidepressant doesn’t cause the same side effects in all people. Many things, including your genetic makeup or existing health conditions, can affect the way you respond to taking an antidepressant.

It’s important to keep track of side effects and discuss them with your doctor. Together, you and your doctor can safely manage your antidepressants so they work with minimal side effects.

Common Side Effects of Antidepressants

Antidepressants can sometimes cause a wide range of unpleasant side effects, including:

  • nausea
  • increased appetite and weight gain
  • loss of sexual desire and other sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction and decreased orgasm
  • fatigue and drowsiness
  • insomnia
  • dry mouth
  • blurred vision
  • constipation
  • dizziness
  • agitation
  • irritability
  • anxiety

Antidepressants and Sexual Problems

One of the more common “though not frequently talked about” side effects is decreased interest in sex or decreased ability to have an orgasm. As many as half the patients who get SSRIs report a sex-related symptom, says Bradley N. Gaynes, MD, MPH, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina.

One way to address such symptoms is to add a different type of antidepressant or even a medication for erectile dysfunction, Gaynes says. But it’s also possible that switching to another antidepressant will make these symptoms go away. Never stop taking the antidepressant without discussing it with your doctor. Stopping abruptly could cause serious withdrawal-like problems.

Today on WebMD

contemplation
Differences between feeling depressed or blue.
light therapy
What are the symptoms?
 
depressed man sitting on hallway floor
Learn the truth about this serious illness.
Sad woman looking out of the window
Tips to stay the treatment course.
 
Woman taking pill
Article
Woman jogging outside
Feature
 
man screaming
Article
woman standing behind curtains
Article
 
Pet scan depression
Slideshow
antidepressants slideshow
Article
 
pill bottle
Article
Winding path
Article