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How do I Choose the Safest Antidepressant?

Article Details
  • Written By: Angela Crout-Mitchell
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 24 February 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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There are several medication prescription options for treating depression, and it is important to note that only a doctor can prescribe a suitable medicine. These kinds of drugs are not available over-the-counter and can only be obtained from a licensed pharmacy with a legitimate prescription. The prescribing physician takes several details into account when choosing the safest antidepressant for his or her patients including medical history, any other drugs the patient may be taking, and family history. He or she will also consider the type of antidepressant to use, potential withdrawal symptoms, and possible side effects to watch for. Patients are advised to not stop taking or changing the dosage amounts of these medications without first consulting with their physician.

The safest antidepressant for any given patient is the one chosen in regards to the type of disorder to be treated and the patient's current health evaluation. Most types of antidepressants, including selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), are considered to be viable treatments for both anxiety disorders and depression. Before choosing a specific antidepressant, the doctor will also review a patient's health history and look for details such as previously taken antidepressants, overall health, and if depression is a factor for the patient's family. In some cases, the doctor may choose to start the patient on a medication that has been effective for a family member.

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Another factor often considered when selecting the safest antidepressant medication is the known side effects. Some people are able to take these kinds of medications with no adverse side effects, and only notice the intended benefit of the substance. In most cases, the patient experiences common side effects of antidepressants including problems sleeping or trouble staying awake, headaches, and possible agitation. If the side effects outweigh the benefits of the prescribed antidepressant, the doctor is likely to change the prescription or the dosage amount.

Most patients are advised to expect the safest antidepressant medications to take anywhere from four to eight weeks to reach their full effectiveness. It is important that the treatment has time to build in the system before its usefulness can be adequately evaluated. For people newly diagnosed with depression, the length of treatment is typically six months to a year, with an assessment performed at the end of the time period. At that point, the physician and patient will decide if further treatment is necessary.

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