Health

15 Things You Should Know About Antidepressant Medications Before Taking Them

10. See the Right Medical Professional Your family doctor should help you in the beginning stages of your treatment. Usually, your general physician (GP) can recognize… Simi - June 9, 2018

10. See the Right Medical Professional

Your family doctor should help you in the beginning stages of your treatment. Usually, your general physician (GP) can recognize you may have depression and need help. And your doctor has the right to prescribe any medication, including antidepressants. However, you should consult a specialist mental healthcare professional since they are far more conversant with the condition and its treatment.

However, your family doctor can prescribe an antidepressant for the short-term while you wait to see a psychiatrist. But don’t assume your GP knows enough about the condition to treat it with the right medications. Their knowledge of medications is probably limited to the better-known ones, which may not be right for you. The go-to medication most GPs will prescribe is fluoxetine, better known as Prozac.

There is a reason for this. Fluoxetine is an excellent antidepressant and works well unless it’s not for you. So, you may experience side effects or even the worsening of your depression. A psychiatrist knows the latest trends, treatments and medications for depression because it’s their specialty. A GP is a generalist, so they won’t have such detailed knowledge.

The waiting period to see a psychiatrist may be long, and if you have to pay for the consultation, it’s expensive. However, you’ll receive the best treatment possible and have a sustained recovery, so it is vital. After all, you wouldn’t go to a criminal lawyer to represent you in a divorce. So don’t leave your treatment entirely in the hands of your GP.

Of course, if something goes wrong, and you can’t see your psychiatrist, you’ll have to go to your regular doctor. But your doctor can consult with your psychiatrist by telephone before making major decisions about your treatment.

11. Antidepressants Go Hand in Hand with Therapy

An effective treatment plan for depression has multiple approaches. And medication is only one of them. Your mental health care professional may prescribe therapy, too. They will encourage you to go to a support group or therapist. Also, they may teach you techniques for taking a mindful approach to your depression.

Going for therapy, getting support from others, and staying in touch with how you’re feeling, and progressing are helpful tools. All of them teach you the things you need to be in control of your own recovery. Therapy can teach you how to recognize your triggers and what to do when they occur. Support groups help keep you grounded in the knowledge you are not alone in what you’re going through.

Deep breathing, keeping a journal and being mindful of your recovery are techniques that will help you along the way. One of the things you get from a multilayered approach is an understanding of the importance of self-care. They also give you the courage to embrace yourself and who you are. This will boost your self-worth and self-esteem. These are the keys to combatting depression and the negative thoughts it creates.

Also, you’ll learn about the importance of a healthy diet and exercise program as part of your recovery. In a group setting, you’ll make new friends who have similar experiences to yours. This can be liberating because people with depression often feel like they’re alone. In fact, most patients think no one understands how they’re feeling.

Breaking free of the shackles of loneliness and isolation is a powerful experience. It is something to draw on every time the dark clouds of self-doubt start to gather on the horizon, and a bout of depression is quickly approaching.

12. Search for the Right Therapist

Therapy is an important part of recovering from depression. But it needs to be with a therapist you can unburden yourself to comfortably. If you can’t trust your therapist or feel they don’t understand you, you’re not likely to share with them. Therapy doesn’t work if the process isn’t open and honest. It takes time to build up enough trust with a person, especially if you’re the victim of trauma.

That doesn’t mean that your therapist shouldn’t challenge you. They should because that’s part of their job. A therapist must get you to look at things from a different perspective. They want you to see and do things you’ve been afraid to tackle for years. And how you respond to these types of challenges indicates where you are in your recovery process.

Therapists assign “homework” to do between sessions. Their homework teaches new behaviors, coping mechanisms and methods for handling stress, anxiety or depression. But you must be able to relate to the therapist you see. If you are from a conservative culture, you may feel more comfortable with a therapist who shares or understands your culture.

As a transgender person, you may find that it’s harder to find a therapist you can relate to and who can relate to you. You might feel that it’s important to see a therapist who follows the same religion as you. But bear in mind that therapists are trained to be open-minded and non-judgmental. If you are not comfortable with a therapist after a few sessions, it may be time to ask for a referral. You need to find a therapist who will be able to help you best.

13. Stopping Your Meds May Bring Withdrawal Symptoms

You will experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking your antidepressants abruptly. Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, aggression, mood swings, dizziness, clumsiness and muscle spasms. There are other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and flu-like symptoms. So it’s never advisable to stop taking your antidepressants suddenly without the guidance of a doctor.

It is possible to go off your antidepressants, but it is vital that you do it safely. In addition, one of the most frequent outcomes of stopping is the return of your depression symptoms. So, you must wean off your meds slowly, or you’ll be back to square one. If you and your doctor agree that you should stop taking antidepressants, they will advise you to do so incrementally.

A slow reduction of your daily dose is the safest way to do it. This means you’ll be coming off your medication for a long time. Often, doses are reduced for a period of six weeks. Thereafter, there will be another dose reduction for six weeks, and so on. So don’t rush the process.

If you feel you’re not coping well, see your doctor immediately. They may consider leaving you on the current dose for a longer time. Also, avoid stopping your antidepressants if you are experiencing a stressful situation such as moving, divorce or exams. If you’re experiencing a life-changing event or there is stress in your life, try to wait.

The timing may not be right because going off your medication is not as easy as it sounds. If you do it at the wrong time, it could have disastrous implications. So, it may be worth your while to wait for a time that is better before stopping them.

14. The Risk Factors of Taking Antidepressants

Like all medications, there are risk factors that make certain groups of people more vulnerable to the side effects and interactions of antidepressants. These are the four main groups of people who should be extra cautious before taking antidepressants:

  • People Over 65: Studies have shown that antidepressant medications, especially SSRIs, increase the risk of falls and fractures among senior citizens. They also account for some bone loss.
  • Teens: When teenagers take antidepressants, there is a greater risk they will experience the effects. In fact, there is an increased risk of suicide among teens who take these medications. So they need to be in the care of an experienced professional. Their parents should understand the warning signs, too. Many parents find out too late that their teen was feeling suicidal, which is a great tragedy.
  • Bipolar Patients: Those with bipolar disorder should not take antidepressants. They can make the bipolar disorder worse or trigger a manic episode, which can be dangerous. This is where the care of a psychiatrist is essential. A GP with little experience of mental health treatment may prescribe antidepressants to a bipolar person because they don’t know the difference. So their best intentions may lead to a patient’s worsening condition.
  • Pregnant Women: Prescribing antidepressants to pregnant women also carries some risk. While on the one hand, the patient needs the medication for her daily survival, there is also the baby to consider. Most antidepressants have labels that read, “untested for pregnancy.” And there is no research on their effects on the brain development of a fetus or whether they cause birth defects. Also, when women take SSRIs during pregnancy, their babies may experience withdrawal symptoms after birth.

15. The Stigma of Depression and Antidepressants

Despite the enlightened times we live in, some people are still in the dark when it comes to depression. In certain religions, cultures and countries, they don’t recognize depression as an illness. People marginalize and label depressed people as being crazy. Even some doctors don’t acknowledge the condition and treat it. And some families regard mental illness as a mark of shame on their honor.

How much you decide to share with those around you is up to you. It will depend on you as a person, and the relationships you have with people around you. But regardless of how careful you are, there will always be that one person who will tell you to smile and get over it. The important part is to know that such statements come from a place of ignorance. If the person truly understood what you were going through, they’d never make statements like that.

When you’re strong enough, try to be an advocate for other sufferers. Stand tall and don’t let others judge you. Choose to educate them about your condition and what triggers it. Explain why you take antidepressants and what they do. Persist in the face of their judgment, and don’t take it to heart.

This may not be easy at the beginning of your recovery, but it will seem possible later. When more people can be open about their struggles with depression, it will become less of a stigma. This will lead to less finger-pointing and whispering, leaving you free to focus on your recovery. As a sign of solidarity for those suffering but afraid, stand up and be counted.

These are the things you should know about antidepressant medications before taking them. Perhaps you know some of the already, but hopefully, you learned some new ones. If you are suffering from depression, there is hope. So talk to your doctor to see what your options are before you feel even worse.

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