Skip to content

Depression Health Center

How Different Antidepressants Work

Font Size
A
A
A

Treatment-Resistant Depression: Getting the Most from Your Antidepressants

It's worth remembering that a lot of what we think about antidepressants is still speculative. We don't really know if low levels of serotonin or other neurotransmitters "cause" depression, or if raising those levels will resolve it. We don't know enough about brain chemistry to say what's "balanced" or "unbalanced." It's possible that antidepressants have other unknown effects, and that their benefits don't have as much to do with neurotransmitter levels as they might with other effects, such as regulating genes that control nerve cell growth and function.

This might not sound very reassuring, especially if you're relying on antidepressants to help you feel better. But remember: even though experts don't have all the answers about how  they work, we do know that they can work. Studies have established that antidepressants can help many people feel better, and that's what's really important.

We also have a lot of research into how people with depression -- including treatment-resistant depression -- can get the most of their medicine. 

When taking an antidepressant for treatment-resistant depression, you have to be patient. Some people start an antidepressant and expect that it will work right away. After all, when you drink a few cups of coffee, or a few glasses of wine, you feel it pretty fast. People naturally expect the same kind of instant results with antidepressants.

But that's just not how antidepressants work. No one knows exactly why, but they can take weeks or months before they gain their full effect. When you're taking an antidepressant, it's important to adjust your expectations and to try to be patient.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on June 25, 2013
1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

contemplation
Differences between feeling depressed and feeling 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.
 
unhappy teen boy
Health Check
woman relaxing with exercise ball
Article
 
Pills with smiley faces
Article
Teen girl huddled outside house
Article
 
Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
Article
antidepressants slideshow
Article
 
pill bottle
Article
Winding path
Article