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What Should I do Before Starting a New Antidepressant?

By Tess C. Taylor
Updated May 17, 2024
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Before starting a new antidepressant, it is important to follow certain steps to ensure the medication will be helpful in alleviating the symptoms of depression. First, it is critical to follow the medical advice of a qualified doctor before starting any new medication, including those that treat depression. In addition, it is a good idea to find out if the drug causes side effects and how it works on the brain. Also, review research about the antidepressant, learn if there are any possible interactions with other medications, and ask how long it will take to see results.

Often the first step in treating depression is seeking the advice of a family physician or psychiatrist. This doctor can prescribe antidepressants and other treatment options to help manage the symptoms of depression. A doctor will most likely start a patient on a low dose of a new antidepressant and closely monitor the progress of the patient over time.

Before beginning to use the new antidepressant, a patient can research possible side effects to watch out for. A doctor can provide much of this information, but doing a little research on the side can also shed light on the most common side effects and actions of any drug used for depression. Having this information can take the fear out of trying a new antidepressant treatment.

Patients also can read medical research on the performance of drugs in medical and psychology journals. This is often a helpful way to find out what the success rate of the antidepressant is before choosing to take it. Keep in mind that the information provided by independent panels of medical researchers is less biased and contains more accurate information than popular marketing advertisements from drug manufacturers.

Additionally, before starting any new antidepressant find out if there are any possible drug interactions with any other medications and herbal supplements. This information should be readily available from the doctor who prescribes the medicine, but it can also be obtained from the pharmacy where the script is filled. Avoid the use of too many antidepressants, especially if care is being provided with several professionals.

Be careful to address any personal health or lifestyle concerns, such as alcohol or drug use, with a doctor before taking a new antidepressant. For patients who may be pregnant, an antidepressant will have to be carefully managed by a physician or avoided until later.

Lastly, when taking a new antidepressant, find out what patients can expect while on it and how long it will take to see positive results. Once on the medication, it may take several weeks to see results and this often causes patients to stop taking medication. It is never a good idea to skip doses, switch medications frequently, or stop abruptly when on an antidepressant, so find out what will happen and stick to the prescribed dose for the best outcome.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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