Starting Antidepressants? 4 Tips To Improve Your Treatment Outcome


If you were diagnosed with depression, you may be prescribed antidepressants in addition to psychotherapy. Taking medication is only one component of depression management. You need to be proactive and assertive in your treatment to help find the right approach.

Use A Medication Journal

Consider keeping a medication journal to help you and your mental health professional gauge your progress. Make a note of when you take your medication, any side effects and your emotions. Minor gastrointestinal side effects are common with antidepressants and typically go away after a few weeks. If you notice any discomfort, you can refer to your journal and determine if there is a better time to take your medication. For example, you may find you need to take your medicine with meals or right before bed.

Keeping a medication journal also prevents you from relying on your memory when you are asked about improvements or worsening of symptoms. Do not limit your notes to basic descriptions of your mood. If you suddenly feel more energized or agitated, you will want to describe the feeling. Dramatic changes in your mood after taking antidepressants can be a sign your depression is really bipolar disorder and will require different treatment.

Keep Medical Professionals Informed

Keep your primary care doctor and any other medical specialists informed of new antidepressants you are taking or changes in your dosage. Many medications and supplements can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your antidepressants. Conversely, your antidepressant may affect other medications you are taking. For example, some antidepressants can make hormonal forms of birth control less effective or if you currently take diuretics for hypertension, this can affect blood plasma levels of your antidepressant.

Certain classes of antidepressants, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), have stringent dietary and medication precautions. Although your mental health professional will warn you of any restrictions, you will need to update this information with other medical professionals.

Be Patient

Antidepressant therapy often requires trial and error. You will need to be patient during the process. Unless you have significant side effects, your mental health professional will likely want you to stay on your current antidepressant for two or three months before they determine the effectiveness. During this time, they may slowly increase your dose before moving on to a different antidepressant. Your mental health professional may consider trying a combination of several antidepressants that work on different neurotransmitters.

Ask About Other Options

Once you have tried several antidepressants without adequate symptom relief, you may need a different treatment approach. Although there are many types of antidepressants, they are not the only option for depression. If you are receiving your prescriptions from a psychologist or therapist with prescribing privileges, ask for a referral to a psychiatrist. Some antipsychotic medications are approved in low doses for use in treatment-resistant depression. They may be used alone or combination with antidepressant medications.

Finding the right medication for depression can take time. Remaining patient and optimistic the right treatment is within your reach will help improve your chances at a successful outcome. More more information on other psychotherapy services, contact a place like Newsome & Associates, Ltd.

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