Anti depressant medicines

There are many different types of anti depressants. The best choice for you can depend on:

  • how long you have felt depressed
  • your age
  • other medical conditions

How anti depressants work

Depression may occur when the balance of the chemicals that control your mood is upset. Anti depressants work by restoring the natural balance of some of these chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin. They can lift your mood enough for you to feel less negative and more able to cope with things.

One person described taking anti depressants like this:

'When I was depressed I felt as if I was slipping down a dark tunnel and couldn’t climb back up to see the light again. Once my anti depressants started to work I didn’t feel as if I was slipping anymore. I still felt quite low at times but I kept seeing more and more light. I felt I now had the strength to grab hold at the top and pull myself out.'

In the past 10 to 15 years a lot of new anti depressant medicines have become available. These seem to be more effective with fewer side effects than many of the older types.

Like all medicines, anti depressants may have some side effects. These will vary depending on the drug you are taking. Your doctor or specialist nurse will discuss all this in detail with you.

Taking your tablets

It can take a few weeks of taking anti depressants before you start to feel better.

When your mood starts to lift a little you are more able to benefit from long term treatments such as talking therapies. 

Some people are worried that they might get hooked on anti depressants. This is unlikely to happen because they are not addictive drugs.

You do need to take anti depressants for a while, even after you feel better. Doctors usually recommend that you take them for at least 6 months.

When you do stop taking them, you need to do it gradually so that your brain and body have time to adjust. It is important to follow your doctor’s advice when stopping anti depressants to allow for this readjustment.

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