Like all medicines, antidepressants can have side effects. But they’re generally well tolerated, says Andrew Coulter, MD, a psychiatrist at the Cleveland Clinic.
common side effects
The types of antidepressants that doctors most commonly prescribe are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressant, atypical antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Each type has its side effects. The most common include:
Many of these side effects will go away because your body will get used to medicine. It takes 2 weeks on average, but most go away within a few days, Coulter says. Some, such as sexual problems and weight gain, may last longer.
Who gets side effects?
Everyone reacts differently to medicine. Maybe your side effects are not the same as anyone else who takes the same thing. Some people don’t see any problem.
Things that can affect how you react to antidepressants include:
- Other medicines. Some drugs can interact, Coulter says. This can cause more side effects if your other medicines are increasing your antidepressant levels. On the other hand, other drugs may make your antidepressant less effective. He says that is why it is important to make sure that all of your Health care Providers have a complete list of the medicines you are taking, both prescription and over-the-counter.
- Ages. “Elderly patients are more likely to have some sort of side effect than younger people,” Coulter says.
- Jean. Your genes affect the way your body handles drugs. In other words, if your body absorbs the drug slowly, you’re going to be more prone to side effects, Coulter says.
- drug type. Older drugs such as tricyclic antidepressants and MAOIs have more side effects than SSRIs, SNRIs, and atypical antidepressants.
Antidepressants and suicide risk
Even if antidepressants are tied to suicidal thoughts or behavior, “there isn’t necessarily a definitive link,” Coulter says. “We have found that as antidepressant prescribing has increased, the suicide rate has decreased.”
because untreated depression While suicide itself can lead to suicide, most experts agree that the benefits of antidepressants often outweigh the risks. Your doctor will talk to you about them.
Although it is not related to antidepressants, the risk of suicide is also higher in people over the age of 65 in general. This risk increases further with age. These older adults make up only 12% of the US population, but they account for 18% of suicide deaths. Having a mental disorder such as depression appears to be the biggest risk factor for suicide in this age group.
According to Coulter and Sanam Hafeez, PsyD, a neuropsychologist at Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, suicidal thoughts can have warning signs such as:
- extreme mood swings
- sleeping too little or too much
- drug overdose or alcohol
- Talking about the desire to die or to hurt or kill oneself
- social solitude
- unusual changes in behavior
- feeling hopeless or helpless
- any underlying depression symptoms getting worse
Barbara Nosal, MD, a psychologist and chief clinical officer at the Newport Institute in Santa Ana, CA, says to look for these additional symptoms in children and teens:
- more anxiety or movement
- reckless, impulsive behavior
- Comments like “My family would be better off without me”
- Withdrawal and separation from family
If you think your child or loved one is in danger of harming themselves, get emergency help right away.
Dealing with Specific Side Effects of Antidepressants
When it comes to the management side Effects of depression Treatment, “My first piece of advice is usually ‘try to wait it out,'” Coulter says. If timing doesn’t help, you can try these tips for specific side effects.
sexual side effects, such as reduced sex drive Or having trouble orgasm, are quite common with antidepressants. “Unfortunately, it leads people to give up medication that might otherwise work,” Coulter says.
Talk to your doctor if you are noticing sexual problems. “If we don’t know about it, we can’t help it,” Coulter says. One option is for your doctor to lower your dose slightly. Or they may switch you to another antidepressant, as some may be worse than others when it comes to sexual side effects.
There is also the possibility of adding a drug such as bupropion (Wellbutrin), buspirone (busparo), or Sildenafil (Viagra) for your treatment plan. Coulter says these can reduce your sexual side effects so that you can stay on an antidepressant that is working for you.
If you’re struggling with weight gain, Hafeez recommends avoiding sodium, reducing sugary drinks, eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise, and talking to a registered dietitian.
Coulter explains that this is another side effect that may warrant a chat with your doctor. Maybe you have something else going on that’s causing you to add pounds, like thyroid problems or a Metabolism issue.
It is also worth noting that for some people, weight gain can be bad for their mood, Nossal says. it can lead to Symptoms of depression which goes bad. If this describes you, talk to your doctor about other treatment options.
If you’re dealing with nausea, ask your doctor whether you should take your antidepressant with food or avoid any food or beverage, Hafeez says. She also suggests eating smaller, more frequent meals. It prevents digestive problems, reduces stomach pain, and helps you stomach empty more quickly. You can also take an antacid to neutralize stomach acid
If you’re having problems like nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea, Coulter says you can talk to your doctor about lowering your antidepressant dose. It is best to go slowly as the medication is increased.
Antidepressants may keep you awake, or you may find that you are falling asleep and sleeping too much. The first thing to look at is timing, says Coulter. If you are taking your medicine in the morning and you tired throughout the day, ask your doctor if you can take it here sleep time Instead. or if you are taking your medicine at night and are not taking sleep, ask about changing it in the morning.
This is another situation where you have something else going on that is causing problems, such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, Coulter explains. Be sure to talk to your doctor if your sleep problems do not improve.
Caffeinated Beverages and Alcohol Can Make You mouth Even drier ones, says Hafeez, so limit these or steer clear of them altogether. Other Tips:
lesser known side effects
Some other side effects of antidepressants are not often discussed. But they are still important to watch.
Low alcohol tolerance. As you become accustomed to your antidepressant, Coulter recommends drinking alcohol more slowly and drinking less. “Sometimes, there’s an added sedative effect when you mix the two,” he says.
is bleeding. Antidepressants, especially SSRIs, can affect Platelets Bleeding increases the risk of bleeding and bleeding, says Colter. Look for a new easy injury or hemorrhage, Especially if you have history gastrointestinal bleeding.
Low sodium level. “Sometimes, Antidepressants Can Interfere With You” blood sodium levels, which can cause headaches or confusion,” says Coulter. Low sodium levels, called hyponatremia, are more common in elderly people. The risk is also very high in the first 2 to 4 weeks after starting an antidepressant it happens.
When you’re adjusting to a new antidepressant, Coulter recommends looking for signs of hyponatremia. Along with headache and confusion, these include:
If you notice these symptoms call your doctor.
healing effects that are not physical
Dislikes medicine. Some people hate taking medicine to feel better. Coulter says this can lead to you not taking it the way you want, or giving up entirely. Talk to your doctor about the risks, benefits, and options of medication and how it fits into your lifestyle, he suggests — especially because medication isn’t the only recommended treatment for depression.
emotional blunt. You may notice that you feel emotionally numb when you take an antidepressant, Hafeez says. Unfortunately, this is a common side effect. To manage it, she recommends:
- talking to a therapist about ways to improve your mood
- asking your doctor about lowering your antidepressant dose
- participating in activities that promote serotonin, such as Exercise, massage Therapy, and Light therapy
Just rely on medicine. Many people use antidepressants as their only treatment for depression, Coulter says. “As psychologists, when we look at patients, we don’t just look at their biology. We think about their psychology and their social context. Because depression affects all of these domains, you only look at the organism. Science can’t cure it,” he says. When you’re depressed, Coulter says, more than likely it’s something you need to talk about or work into psychotherapy. is an important part Depression treatment.
Talk to your doctor before stopping an antidepressant
Quitting your antidepressant cold turkey can be physically uncomfortable, especially if you’ve been on it for a while, Coulter says. And if you’re taking higher doses, you could have something called discontinuation syndrome. You start to get a headache as soon as the medicine leaves your body, or flu– Like symptoms.
Stopping your medication means you may also risk a return of your depression symptoms. You may feel better now that you are taking it, but that doesn’t mean you no longer need it. You will need to keep taking your antidepressant to prevent it from happening again.
If the side effects are too many, talk to your doctor. Keep in mind that the first drug you try may not be right for you, Coulter says. It may take some trial and error to figure out which antidepressant and dosage works best.
You may reach a point where you want to stop your medication. Talk to your doctor first. That way, Coulter says, you can discuss other treatment options and agree on a schedule to ease over time to keep discomfort to a minimum.
look into other treatments
Remember, medication is only one of the treatments for depression. You can also try things like lifestyle changes, integrated medicine. brain Stimulation therapy, and various forms of psychotherapy. These may be part of your treatment plan for — or instead of — antidepressants.
Nosal works with teens and young adults and encourages “a more minimalistic approach with medicine” in these groups. She prefers to incorporate holistic approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Exercise, Diet Change, note, and family therapy.
“There are many ways to try to integrate healthy nutrition and physical wellness habits and see how they affect one’s emotional and mental state,” Nosal says.