Going on antidepressants or considering them can seem daunting at times. Here are some quick facts to help you adjust:
Antidepressants are Not Just for Depression
Despite their name, people can go on antidepressants for a variety of reasons. Aside from depression, doctors can prescribe them for insomnia, anxiety and even pain management. For example, in Quebec this past decade alone, antidepressants were prescribed specifically for depression only a little more than 50% of the time according to one study.
Approximately 7/100 People in Canada are Currently Taking Some Form of Antidepressant
You truly aren’t alone if you take an antidepressant. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conducted a study that found that 66 out of 1000 people are on antidepressants in Canada, and 110 out of 1000 people in the United States. Taking antidepressants is not different than taking aspirin for a headache or antibiotics for an infection; mental illness should be treated like any other type of illness.
Everyone is Different
The most important thing to remember is that everyone’s body reacts differently to medication. Your one friend might say her medication makes her sleepy so she takes it at night, but that doesn’t mean the same will happen for you – you may find that it works better for you to take it in the morning. Don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor about concerns or side effects, they’re there to help you.
It’s Ok to Switch
You shouldn’t feel stuck with one type of medication. Your health care professional will work with you to find the best medication for you to be on. There are several classes of antidepressants your doctor can break down for you. Don’t be worried that one type is not working, as you may need to try multiple before finding the best for you.
Consistency is Key
Set alarms, put a sticky note on your mirror or add it to your calendar! Whatever it takes for you to remember to take your pill at a specific time, you should do it. If you stop taking them abruptly you may experience withdrawal, or find that your depression or other health concerns are coming back. You should always consult a medical professional before stopping a prescription or reducing a dose on your own.
Give it Time
Antidepressants are not a magical cure-all pill. Be aware that you may still experience feelings of sadness or anxiety (which is totally normal). Antidepressants can help regulate your mood and control these feelings when they arise. It can take up to a month to notice if an antidepressant is working. However, this does not mean once they start working all other coping mechanisms get thrown out the window. Remember to keep taking them as directed by a medical professional and follow up if you are concerned with any changes!
It can be scary and intimidating to find the right medication, but once you do, it’s so worth it! Hopefully this article answered some questions you may have had about antidepressants!
The Quebec study results were published May 24 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.