Sometimes depression can make you feel alone, but did you know that 1 in 10 Americans take antidepressant medications, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)?
Medications may help you through your depression so you can get back to enjoying the things you love. However, just like with all medications, there are some important things to consider and discuss with your doctor when taking antidepressant medications.
Keep reading on to find out what you need to know about depression medication management.
Familiarize Yourself With Your Medication
You should be familiar with the name of your medication, how to take it, how much to take, and how often to take it.
You should know the name of the medication that the doctor prescribed for your depression. Not all medicines mix, and if you are in the emergency room or take other drugs, your doctors may need to know what antidepression medication you take to determine a plan of care that will work best for you.
In addition to helping with other medical needs, knowing your medication’s name will come in handy when refilling your prescription or if you switch doctors.
How Often and How Much?
You also need to know how much of your medication should you take and how you should take it. This is crucial in helping to ensure that you are taking the right dose of the medicine.
Some antidepressants are prescribed once per day. Others are more frequent. Taking too much or not enough of the medications may cause serious side effects.
Knowing how to take your medication can help reduce some side effects. For example, should you take your medication with a meal? Maybe that reduces nausea side effects from the drug. However, some medications should only be taken with water.
Be Mindful of Potential Side Effects
You should become familiar with the possible side effects of the depression medication you are taking. You can read the fact sheet that comes with the medication and ask the pharmacist to answer any questions.
Knowing the side effects ahead of time is essential with antidepressants, just like all medications. If you do experience any side effects, you should contact your doctor right away.
Some side effects of antidepressant medications are mild and temporary. These side effects will likely go away within a few weeks. Your doctor may advise that you continue taking the antidepressant medication with these mild side effects and may suggest ways to manage them.
However, there are some side effects that should not be ignored, including:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble swallowing
- Swollen tongue or lips
- Worsening of depression
- Manic behaviors
You should call your doctor right away or call 911 if you experience any of these side effects.
Antidepressant Medications and Other Medications
Not all medications for depression and other medications mix well together. Therefore, your doctor must be aware of all of your health conditions and the medications you are taking. This includes any over-the-counter (OTC) medications and herbal supplements you take.
Sometimes antidepressants and other medications can have a harmful interaction and cause some serious side effects. Other medications may not work as well when you mix them.
Your doctor and pharmacist can assist you in letting you know what medications are safe to take together with antidepressants and which medications should be avoided.
Alcohol and Antidepressants
In addition to watching what medications you mix with antidepressants, you should be careful when drinking alcohol while taking an antidepressant. Speak with your doctor first to know the risks of mixing your medication with alcohol, especially until you know how the medication will affect you.
Some people experience problems when mixing antidepressant medications and alcohol. For example, with some depression medications, patients can have seizures when they drink heavily while taking.
In addition, if you are drinking heavily and regularly, it can make treating depression harder. Therefore, be honest with your doctor about your drinking habits. They may offer counseling or other options to help with your drinking, which may help with your depression treatment.
Depression Medication Withdrawal
Antidepressant withdrawal is also sometimes referred to as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, which occurs when you stop taking antidepressant medications suddenly.
Stopping antidepressant medications should not be done, especially suddenly, without discussing with your doctor first.
If you feel you are having a hard time with your antidepressant medication, talk with your doctor to develop a plan to wean off or reduce the dose slowly. Stopping an antidepressant can take up to a period of a few weeks in order to do it safely.
Symptoms of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome usually go away after one week. They include:
In addition to these depression medication withdrawal symptoms, stopping antidepressant medications suddenly may cause a return or worsening of your depression.
Depression Medication Management Looks Different for Everyone
Depression is a tricky illness and looks different for everyone. There is not a “one-size fits all” or treatment plan that works for everyone to treat depression.
Therefore, depression medication management can be tricky. Some patients start to feel better within one to three weeks after taking an antidepressant. However, other patients do not feel better right away and may need to discuss changes in the medication or dose with their doctor.
Get Help Managing Your Depression Today
Depression is a serious illness, and you are not alone. Many people suffer from depression and need help with counseling and medication to help them overcome it. There is a lot to consider when faced with depression medication management, but there is help available.
If you or a loved one needs depression help, reach out to Talking Circles Therapy & Wellness today. They offer a wide range of counseling services and medication management to help you or your loved one manage their depression.