Like all medicines, antidepressants can also have side effects. But they are generally well tolerated, says Andrew Coulter, MD, a psychiatrist at the Cleveland Clinic.
Common side effects
The types of antidepressants that doctors prescribe most are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), Tricyclic antidepressant, Atypical antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Each type has its own side effects. The most common include:
Many of these side effects will go away because your body will get used to medicine. It takes an average of 2 weeks, but most leave within a few days, Coulter says. Some, such as sexual problems and weight gain, may last longer.
Who gets side effects?
Everyone reacts differently to the drug. You may not have the same side effects as anyone else who takes the same thing. Some people do not see any problem.
Things that may affect how you react to antidepressants include:
- Other medicines. Some drugs can interact, Coulter says. This can cause more side effects if your other medications are increasing your antidepressant levels. On the other hand, other drugs may make your antidepressant less effective. He says this is why it is important to make sure that all your Health care Providers have a complete list of medications you are taking, both prescription and over-the-counter.
- Ages. “Elderly patients are more likely to have some kind of side effect than younger people,” Coulter says.
- Jean. Your genes affect the way your body handles drugs. In other words, if your body absorbs the medicine slowly, you’re going to be more prone to side effects, Coulter says.
- Drug type. Older drugs such as tricyclic antidepressants and MAOIs have more side effects than SSRIs, SNRIs, and atypical antidepressants.
Antidepressant and suicide risk
Even if antidepressants are tied to suicidal thoughts or behavior, “there is not necessarily a definite link,” Coulter says. “We found that as antidepressant prescribing increased, the suicide rate decreased.”
Because untreated depression Self can lead to suicide, with most experts agreeing that the benefits of antidepressants often outweigh the risks. Your doctor will talk to you about them.
Although it is not related to antidepressants, the risk of suicide is generally higher in people over 65 years of age. This risk increases more with age. These older adults make up only 12% of the US population, but they account for 18% of suicide deaths. Depression seems to be the biggest risk factor for suicide in this age group.
According to PsyD, Coulter and Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist at Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, suicidal thoughts may contain warning signs such as:
- Extreme mood
- Sleep too little or too much
- Drug overuse or alcohol
- Talking about the desire to die or to hurt or kill oneself
- Social privacy
- Abnormal Behavior Changes
- Feeling frustrated or helpless
- Worsening of any original depression symptoms
Barbara Nausal, psychologist and chief clinical officer at the Newport Institute in Santa Ana, CA, calls for these additional symptoms to be seen in children and adolescents:
- more anxiety Or movement
- Careless, impulsive behavior
- Comments such as “My family would be better off without me”
- Withdrawal and separation from family
If you feel that your child or loved one is in danger of harming themselves, get emergency help immediately.
Dealing with specific side effects of antidepressants
When it comes to the management side Effects of depression Treatment, “The first piece of my advice is usually ‘try waiting it out,'” says Coulter. If time does not help, you can try these tips for specific side effects.
Sexual side effects, such as less Sex drive Or having trouble Orgasm, Are quite common with antidepressants. “Unfortunately, it leads people to give up medication that might otherwise work,” Coulter says.
Talk to your doctor if you notice sexual problems. “If we don’t know about it, we can’t help,” Coulter says. An alternative is to have your doctor reduce your dose slightly. Or they can turn you into another antidepressant, as some may be worse than others in terms of sexual side effects.
There is also the possibility of adding a medicine such as bupropion (Wellbutrin), Bispiron (Busparo), or Sildenafil (Viagra) for your treatment plan. Coulter says that these can reduce your sexual side effects so that you can stay on an antidepressant that is working for you.
If you are struggling with weight gain, Hafeez recommends avoiding sodium, reducing sugary drinks, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and talking to a registered dietitian.
Coulter explains that this is another side effect that one may ask to chat with your doctor. Maybe you have something else going on that you are adding pounds, such as thyroid problems Or a Metabolism Issue.
It is also worth noting that for some people, weight gain can be bad for their mood, Nossal says. This can lead to Symptoms of depression Which worsens. If it describes you, talk to your doctor about other treatment options.
If you are dealing with nausea, ask your doctor if you should take your antidepressant from food or avoid any food or beverages, says Hafeez. She also suggests eating smaller, more frequent meals. It prevents digestive problems, reduces stomach pain, And helps you stomach Empty more quickly. You can also take an antacid to neutralize it stomach Acid
If you are having problems like nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, Coulter says that you can talk to your doctor about reducing your antidepressant dose. It is best to go slowly as the medicine progresses.
Antidepressants can keep you awake, or you may find that you are sleeping too much and sleeping too much. The first thing to see is timing, Coulter says. If you are taking your medicine in the morning and you tired Throughout the day, ask your doctor if you can take it here sleep time Instead. Or if you are taking and not taking your medicine at night sleep, Ask about changing it in the morning.
This is another situation where you have something else going on that is causing problems, such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, Explains Coulter. If your sleep problem does not get fixed, make sure to talk to your doctor.
Caffeinated beverages and alcohol can make you mouth Even dryers, says Hafeez, so limit them or clean them completely. Other tips:
Lesser known side effects
Some other side effects of antidepressants are often not discussed. But they are still important to watch.
Low alcohol tolerance. As you get used to your antidepressant, Coulter recommends drinking alcohol more slowly and less. “Sometimes, when you mix the two there is an extra sedative effect,” he says.
is bleeding. Antidepressants, especially SSRIs, can affect Platelets Bleeding, says Colter, increases the risk of bleeding. Look for new easy bruises or Hemorrhage, Especially if your history is history gastrointestinal bleeding.
Low sodium levels. “Sometimes, antidepressants can interfere with you” blood Sodium levels, which can cause headaches or confusion, “Coulter says. Low sodium levels, called hyponatremia, are more common in elderly people. The risk is also very high in the first 2 to 4 weeks after starting antidepressant it happens.
When you’re adjusting to a new antidepressant, Coulter recommends looking for signs of hyponatremia. Along with headaches and confusion, these include:
If you notice these symptoms, call your doctor.
Treatment effects that are not physical
Disliked the drug. Some people hate taking medication to feel better. The hipter says that you cannot take it the way you want, or leave it altogether. Talk to your doctor about the risks, benefits, and alternatives to the drug and how it fits into your lifestyle, he suggests – especially because medicine is not the only recommended treatment for depression.
Emotional blurring. You can see that when you take antidepressants you feel emotionally numb, says Hafeez. Unfortunately, this is a common side effect. To manage this, she recommends:
- Talking to therapists about ways to improve your mood
- Ask your doctor about reducing your antidepressant dose
- Participating in serotonin promoting activities, such as Exercise, massage Therapy, And Light therapy
Only rely on medicine. Many people use antidepressants as their only treatment for depression, says Kulper. “As psychiatrists, when we look at patients, we don’t just look at their biology. We think about their psychology and their social context. Because depression affects all of these domains, you’re just the organism. Science cannot cure, “he says. When you’re depressed, Kipter says, more than likely there’s something you need to talk about or work on in psychiatry. That’s why it’s Is an important part Depression treatment.
Talk to your doctor before stopping an antidepressant
Dropping your antidepressant cold turkey can be physically uncomfortable, especially if you’ve been on it for a while, says Kipter. And if you are taking an overdose, you may have something called discontinuation syndrome. As soon as the medicine leaves your body, you get a headache or The flu– Symptoms.
Discontinuing your medication means that you can also risk a withdrawal of your depression symptoms. You may feel better now that you are taking it, but that does not mean that you no longer need it. You have to keep taking your antidepressant to prevent it from happening again.
If the side effects are too much, talk to your doctor. Keep in mind that the first medicine you try may not be right for you, Coulter says. There may be some trial and error in figuring out which antidepressant and dosage works best.
You can get to the point where you want to stop your medication. Talk to your doctor first. In this way, Coulter says, you can discuss other treatment options and agree on a schedule to minimize discomfort over time to keep it at a minimum.
Consider other treatments
Remember, medication is only one of the treatments for depression. You can also try things like lifestyle changes, integrated medicine. brain Stimulation treatment, and various forms of psychotherapy. These may be part of your treatment plan – or instead – antidepressants.
Nosal works with teens and young adults and encourages “a more minimalist approach with medication” in these groups. She prefers to incorporate holistic approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Exercise, Diet Change, note, And Family medicine.
“There are many ways to try to integrate healthy nutrition and physical well-being habits and see how they affect one’s emotional and mental state,” says Nausal.