Should I take antidepressants?

Taking antidepressants for the very first time can be a huge leap and a scary thing to do. If you've finally plucked up the courage to speak to your doctor about mental health issues and they've recommended antidepressants, it can be a frightening prospect. Advice For All take a look into the benefits and downsides of taking antidepressants.

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Should I take Antidepressants
Key Point: Ensure you feel confident with what your doctor has told you!

So you’ve been given a prescription for antidepressants.

You’ve finally plucked up the courage to go and talk to your doctor about feeling low, down, depressed or anxious and you’ve come out with a prescription for antidepressants. This can be very daunting for anyone to have to deal with and you may have several questions and concerns flying around your head.

  • How will the antidepressants make me feel?
  • Will the antidepressants even work?
  • I don’t feel like I need the medication!
  • What if they make me feel worse?

You could be asking yourself some, all or even more of these questions.

I’m not sure about taking my antidepressants; Help!

It’s completely normal to be anxious about taking antidepressants for the first time or a new antidepressant for the first time. Let’s get one thing clear before we move on. If you’ve had a long chat with your doctor and been prescribed medication to help with your issues then you should probably take them. Most doctors don’t hand out antidepressants “willy nilly” however there are some things to take into consideration and questions you can ask yourself to find out whether or not medication truly is right for you.

Are you feeling mildly depressed, feeling occasional or frequent low moods but nothing too serious that it’s affecting your day to day life and activities?

This is an important question to ask. If you’re feeling low and suffering from mild depression then medication may not be the answer to your problems. In fact, research has shown that in cases of mild depression that medication has no more benefits than a placebo affect.

For this reason you may wish to consult a second opinion or speak to your doctor again. If you’re experiencing mild depression you may find counselling, talking therapies or CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is more useful and helpful to you.

Did your doctor offer you any form of talking or other kinds of therapies alongside your medication?

It’s normally highly recommended within the medical profession and mental health sector that alongside antidepressants some form other therapy (normally a talking therapy or CBT) is offered.

If you haven’t been offered any form of therapy alongside your medication then book into see your GP again and discuss this with them, let them know if you feel a talking therapy would help you personally and see if they can refer you to the relevant services in your area.

Will antidepressants help me?

There’s no clear cut answer to this question. Everyone is unique and people are different, not every case is the same. Normally antidepressants work by increasing the seretonin levels within the brain. It’s thought that some people may have a chemical imbalance and antidepressants work to replace this imabalance within the brain.

People who normally get down and depressed for no apparent reason usually see a real benefit from antidepressants as it’s normally due to a chemical imbalance. However, people who have a past history of trauma or abuse within their life may have mixed results with antidepressants and talking therapies alongside medication combined, may be more suitable.

In some cases people experincing both past trauma as well as a chemical imbalance may find a multitude of treatments beneficial. This is why there’s no clear answer as to whteher or not anitdepressants will be beneficial, each person is a unique individual and treatment should be tailored to each person’s needs and medical requirements.

OK, but what about side effects?

There’s obviously side effects with any medication that you take. If you’re concerned or experience any side effects it’s best to consult your doctor. Have a read through the leaflet that was perscribed with your medication, if you have any concerns whatsoever or experience any adverse side effects to the medication, consult your GP or pharmacist right away.

It’s important to note with most antidepressants that you can feel more depressed, sleepy, run down or under the weather when you start taking or switch to a new antidepressant. This is usually completly normal and is your body adjusting to the medication within your body. However, if you do have any concerns that are worrying you or making you anxious it’s completly fine to consult your doctor about the symptoms you’re experincing.

Are there any “natural remedies” and alternatives to help with depression instead of the antidepressants?

Aside from the talking therapies we have mentioned above, diet, living a healthy lifestyle and getting plenty of exercise can help with depression. Eating a healthy and balanced diet is said to have huge benefit on mental health. Eating fish is also recommended as it’s thought to be very good for the brain and packed with vitamins that can help with depression.

Sleep is also another important factor. Insuring you get a regular balanced healthy sleep is important in maintaining positive mental health. This means getting 8 hours of full rest each night, ensuring you’re sleeping pattern is fixed and that you’re going to bed and waking up at the same time on a regular basis where possible.

The NHS Website also recommend ST John’s Wort this is a natural remedy that can help with depression, however it can have a negative effect with other medications you’re taking such as the contraceptive pill, so if you’re considering taking St John’s Wort, ensure that you read up on it in full on the NHS Website HERE.

But, should I take antidepressants or not?

Really, it’s up to you. We can’t answer the question for you. If you’ve read through all of this article and are still nervous, anxious and worried about taking the antidepressants then there’s nothing wrong in contacting your GP surgery and asking for a second opinion or asking to talk to your doctor in more depth about it.

As an end note we’d like to point out that it wont cause any harm in at least trying the antidepressants. Normally, if a doctor thinks that they will be beneficial to you then it’s a good idea to take them. Just like a doctor pescribing medication for diabetes or heart disease the medication is there to help but, at the end of the day the decision is in your hands.

If you do start taking the antidepressants and decide you want to stop consult your doctor first as some antidepressants will require you to come off them slowly as not the suffer any major side affects, please don’t just stop taking them in one go.

What Now?:

Mind offers advice and support to people with mental health problems. Their helpline runs from 9am to 6pm from Monday to Friday. 0300 123 3393

Feeling in a bad place? Need to talk to someone? The Samaritans are on hand to help call them on 08457 90 90 90

Chat about this subject on our Mental Health Forums.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Have you been on antidepressants? If so do you feel like they’ve helped you? Did you choose not to take your prescribed antidepressants? If so why and what did you do as an alternative? Discuss below!

    • I personally decided to stop taking my antidepressants. I felt like a few months in and they wasn’t helping me, however, people around me noticed a change, mainly that I’d be more snappy and get agitated and angry at the slightest of things.

      As a result of that I’m now going to be having words with my GP and see what they suggest, maybe coming off it was a bad idea as even though I didn’t notice a change within myself it seems others noticed a change in me for the worse when I came off the medication.

  2. Antidepressants worked for me to begin with but as time has gone on they’ve began to ware off. I personally don’t feel like they help me now but my doctor disagrees with me. I know there has been talk of upping my dosage though, maybe I’ve just built up an immunity to the medication I’m on.

    As the article suggests though I’d say if your doctor says they will help you what have you got to lose, you have to be in a pretty bad place to be put on them anyway so surely they can only help in the long run? Well that’s my view on it anyway…

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