Antidepressants can be an important part of the treatment for depression. With the help of antidepressants, prescribed alone or along with psychotherapy or counseling, the great majority of adults who suffer with depression improve, according to the FDA and the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH).
Depression is a complex brain disorder that affects how well nerve cells in certain parts of the brain work. Antidepressants improve the way some of those brain cells work and change the activity of certain chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Antidepressants are medications that affect people mentally, emotionally, and physically and must be taken with care to increase their benefits and decrease their chances of any serious side effects.
Many antidepressants are available, and sometimes you and your doctor may need to try several to find the one that is best for you. Also, these drugs take time to be effective; it may take a few weeks before you see your symptoms decrease. Your health care provider will help you find the one drug or a combination of drugs that work.
It's important to take antidepressants exactly as prescribed. Doing a good job of communicating with your doctor and pharmacist about your symptoms and your medication use also is important. Other items to keep in mind when prescribed an antidepressant include:
- Stick with your medication. It often takes three to eight weeks before antidepressants take effect and you start feeling better.
- Ask about drug interactions. Antidepressants can have an effect on many other medicines and vice versa. When you're taking an antidepressant, tell your health care provider and pharmacist about all the other medicines you take, including over-the-counter medicines and herbal health products.
- Follow instructions carefully. Taking an antidepressant exactly as prescribed, including the time of day, is crucial. You should never stop taking your medication without checking with your health care provider. Doing so could cause your depression to return with possible risk for suicide or cause symptoms from the sudden withdrawal. To stop taking an antidepressant safely, you should taper off your dosage over time, as your provider prescribes.
- Follow any warnings carefully. Some antidepressants cause drowsiness, making certain activities dangerous. Call your health care provider immediately if your depression becomes worse, you start to have suicidal thinking, or begin to think of ways to commit suicide.
For more information about antidepressants, talk to your physicians or pharmacist. Pharmacists at Barnabas Health Retail Pharmacies at Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center, Livingston; Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville; Jersey City Medical Center, Jersey City; Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch; and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Newark are also available to answer any questions you may have. To speak to a pharmacist at any of these locations, call:
- Barnabas Health Retail Pharmacy at Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center: 973-322-7315
- Barnabas Health Retail Pharmacy at Clara Maass Medical Center: 973-450-2581
- Barnabas Health Retail Pharmacy at Jersey City Medical Center: 201-915-2166
- Barnabas Health Retail Pharmacy at Monmouth Medical Center: 732-923-6111
- Barnabas Health Retail Pharmacy at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center: 973-926-7422
- Barnabas Health Retail Pharmacy at Saint Barnabas Medical Center: 973-322-2445