Antidepressants help restore the normal balance of brain chemicals. When these brain chemicals are in proper balance, your depression gets better.
You may start to feel better within 1 to 3 weeks after you start taking the medicine. But you may need to take it for 6 to 8 weeks to get the full benefit and feel much better. If you have questions or concerns about your medicines, or if you don't feel any better in 3 weeks, talk to your doctor.
There are many medicines for depression. If the first one you try doesn't work, a different one usually will. You may need to try several medicines before you find the one that works best for you.
If the side effects bother you, talk to your doctor. There are many things you can do to reduce side effects. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medicine.
Taking your medicine for at least 6 months after you feel better can help keep you from getting depressed again. If this is not the first time you have been depressed, your doctor may want you to take your medicine for an even longer time. But don't worry—no matter how long you take an antidepressant, you can't become addicted to it.
The best reason to stop taking your antidepressant is because you feel better and you and your doctor believe that you will stay well after you stop taking it.
If you plan to stop your medicine, talk with your doctor first about how to do it safely. You may need to stop slowly over time. Suddenly stopping some medicines may cause problems, such as flu-like symptoms and dizziness.
Seeing a counselor works well to help people with depression feel better. Counseling may also help prevent your depression from coming back after you have stopped taking your medicine.
The types of counseling most often used to treat depression include:
You may want to try other ways to help treat or prevent depression.
Taking care of your overall health can help you treat depression. You can:
The herb St. John's wort may help treat mild depression. But it may cause problems with other medicines that you're taking, so you need to talk to your doctor before you take it.
Your doctor might recommend stopping your antidepressant if:
|Stop taking your antidepressant||Keep taking it|
|What is usually involved?|
|What are the benefits?|
|What are the risks and side effects?|
Are you interested in what others decided to do? Many people have faced this decision. These personal stories may help you decide.
These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.
"I stopped taking my depression medicine a year ago. I had been on the medicine for a year, and my symptoms were under control. I felt really good. I wanted to see if I could stay healthy without the medicine. I am still going to counseling, though, and I hope that will be enough to keep my depression from coming back."
— Azim, age 40
"My symptoms were really bad. I even tried to kill myself once. Thank goodness my doctor finally found a medicine that makes me feel just about normal. I've been on the medicine for a while, but there's no way I'm going to stop taking it until my doctor thinks I'm ready. I definitely do not want to go back to feeling the way I did before treatment."
— Walker, age 23
"I've been on antidepressants for 9 months, and my depression symptoms are gone. But each of the three different drugs I've tried has side effects that I don't like, especially not having a sex drive and not being able to sleep well. My depression symptoms weren't all that bad in the first place. For me, the treatment is worse than the disease was."
— Inez, age 35
"My medicine is working really well now, and the side effects don't really bother me. Taking the pills is just not that big a deal for me, so why stop a good thing? Especially if it means I'm less likely to get depressed again in the future."
— Rachel, age 29
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to stop taking your antidepressant
Reasons to keep taking it
I'm feeling much better.
I don't feel as good as I would like.
I feel confident that I can keep feeling good with counseling and self-care.
To stay well, I need more help than counseling and self-care can give me.
I can't stand the side effects of my medicine anymore.
I can manage the side effects.
I just don't want to take medicine.
I don't mind taking medicine.
I want to try over-the-counter medicine like St. John's wort.
I want to keep taking a prescription medicine.
My other important reasons:
My other important reasons:
Now that you've thought about the facts and your feelings, you may have a general idea of where you stand on this decision. Show which way you are leaning right now.
Stopping the medicine
Staying on the medicine
1. What is the best reason to stop taking depression medicine?
2. How long do you need to take a depression medicine to lower the chance that your depression could come back?
3. What is the best way to stop your depression medicine?
1. Do you understand the options available to you?
2. Are you clear about which benefits and side effects matter most to you?
3. Do you have enough support and advice from others to make a choice?
1. How sure do you feel right now about your decision?
2. Check what you need to do before you make this decision.
3. Use the following space to list questions, concerns, and next steps.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry|