What you need to know about antidepressants (2023)

The idea of ​​taking medication to treat psychiatric conditions like depression has generated some controversy compared to other areas of medicine. Many people voice opinions on whether antidepressants are good or bad on various media platforms and have strong opinions on either side of the debate, but very few are neutral.

Some feel that there are too many side effects, or that they don't work, or that others judge them when they take antidepressants. Others fear that they will become addicted to it or that it will change their personality.

The choice of whether or not to take antidepressants is, in fact, quite a big one. So are antidepressants worth it? Do some research and have one or more meaningful conversations with your doctor to get started.

It's always a good idea to base your decision on facts rather than rumors or media descriptions of antidepressants.

Below are some pros and cons of taking antidepressants, based on years of clinical research and an understanding of what patients expect and what to look for when making this personal decision.

Common types of depression medication

Are antidepressants worth it?

If you're considering taking antidepressants and are wondering if they're right for you, you might want to get an idea of ​​some of the pros and cons of taking antidepressants. Ultimately, it's best to work with your doctor to determine the treatments and medications that are right for you.


  • Greater motivation to drive lifestyle changes.

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  • Secure

  • Effective

In contrast

  • Secondary Effects

  • Late start (it may take some time before the results are visible)

  • Some antidepressants may not work

Benefits of Antidepressants

The following are some of the general benefits of taking antidepressants.

Motivation to promote lifestyle changes

Many lifestyle changes can help manage depressive symptoms. Things like exercise, hobbies and a balanced diet are known for thisbeneficial in the treatment of mental illness.

The problem is that a depressed person is not always motivated enough to make these lifestyle adjustments. Antidepressants can be a starting point for implementing a healthier lifestyle.

Ideally, when someone exercises their decision to take medication, it is part of a holistic approach to their well-being that includes self-care and attention to physical health. One does not replace the other.

Antidepressants are safe

Antidepressants have proven to be safe. Wordfor sureIt may sound vague, but for antidepressants it refers to:

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  • How safe is the drug in case of overdose
  • The severity of side effects at the therapeutic (prescribed) dose
  • If the antidepressant has dangerous interactions with other drugs or substances.

There are studies showing that antidepressants are even safer for certain vulnerable populations such as pregnant women,Organ transplant recipientsthose with active tumors and those who have recently had a stroke.

Antidepressants are effective

Every time a drug is tested for effectiveness, it is compared to a placebo. A placebo has no active ingredients but can be effective because some patients respond to the proposed treatment. Any benefit of the drug must be that of the "Placebo Effect' be declared effective.

Antidepressants have been shown to be more effective than placebo at relieving depressive symptoms and reducing the duration of a depressive episode.

Because this class of drugs has been used for over 40 years, there is a wealth of information about how they affect the body. Since the 1980s, several large-scale studies have compared these drugs to a placebo and to each other when new drugs came out. However, very little information is available on the hierarchy of effects of antidepressants.

The fact that antidepressants are effective is an important benefit. Depression is a terrible condition that brings with it symptoms like trouble sleeping, hopelessness, difficulty concentrating, lethargy, and suicidal thoughts.

A depressive episode can damage intimate relationships, disrupt lives, and increase the likelihood of risky behavior and bad decisions. It can severely limit psychosocial functioning and affect your quality of life.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), major depression is the third leading cause of disease burden worldwide. They project that the disease will take the top spot by 2030.

Remember that the downsides of taking an antidepressant need to be weighed against the downsides of prolonged depression. If we only compare the shortcomings of taking a drug with those of not taking it, we get a distorted and incomplete picture.

The History of the Depression

Disadvantages of antidepressants

When deciding whether antidepressants are right for you, it's also important to understand the potential downsides of taking them.

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Secondary Effects

Although antidepressants are safe, they are not without side effects. A drug can be considered safe even if it has side effects.eSide effects are not life-threatening and/or go away when the drug is stopped. This is largely true of antidepressants.

Some of the most common side effects of antidepressants are:

  • fatigue
  • stomach pain
  • decreased libido

Many people have no side effects, or they go away as the body adjusts to the drug. It's imperative to have an open and ongoing dialogue with your doctor about your experience, so make sure your concerns are heard early on.

Careful consideration of the side effects of antidepressants can only be effective when these side effects are balanced against the impact of depression on your life.

Some people who experience side effects decide that the benefits they get from the drug are worth it. As such, they are willing to have things like dry mouth and plenty of water on hand in exchange for living free of depression.

Long-term effects of antidepressants

Late beginning

Antidepressants do not work immediately. Of course it depends on the drug and the person, but the benefits can start a few days after the first dose.

Most will experience some benefits within two to four weeks. Trying an antidepressant isn't technically considered a failure unless you haven't felt any improvement after six weeks of a therapeutic dose.

Some medications are given at a low dose to allow your body to adjust, and then that dose is slowly increased. You and your doctor can discuss whether it's realistic to expect a benefit before you reach that dose.


We try not to let ourselves be influencedStigmain important life decisions. However, one should be honest with oneself about the potential for significant stigma and self-stigma associated with taking antidepressants and how this can affect one's behavior.

Some people can be so ambivalent about taking medications that they skip doses or don't share their antidepressant use with other professionals, so they may need a full medical history.

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You should also get comfortable with the idea of ​​taking a medication that you can take for about six months, as that is the usual recommendation.

Some antidepressants may not work for you

Sometimes a drug is ineffective or does not bring the desired effect. In this case, you and your doctor can work on a plan that could include a new drug or, in some cases, an additional drug.

Currently, there is no good way to predict in advance which drug might work for a particular person with just a standard interview.

However, there appears to be a genetic component to the response to antidepressants. Some companies offerRetestwhich may be helpful in determining the best option for you.

Your doctor may also ask about other family members with a history of depression and what medications have worked for them to support your prescription.

We really don't know why antidepressants work.

While many people commonly believe that brain chemistry causes depression, researchers and doctors now know this is not the case. This theory has been on the wane for years, but a 2022 study showed there's no reason to believe depression is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.

However, this does not mean that antidepressants do not help. Rather, it means that we do not fully and accurately understand itwhyAntidepressants relieve the symptoms of depression.

Depression is complex and can have many causes. Because of this, no single treatment works for everyone.

Taking an antidepressant may improve your symptoms, but it won't necessarily change the underlying factors contributing to your depression. Because of this, combining medication with psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, stress management, and other tactics may provide the best relief.

A word from Verywell

Committing to taking an antidepressant is an important decision. While there are so many great independent research resources online, you should hear your options from a doctor.

You can ask your doctor about treatment options that may be right for you without obligation. So don't be afraid to find out more.

(Video) 5 Things You Need To Know About Antidepressants

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1. 5 Things You Should Be Told When Starting Medication for Anxiety and/or Depression | SSRI/SNRI
(Nurse Liz)
2. ANTIDEPRESSANTS - What you need to know as a patient, in Q&A
(Dr. Jenny Yi)
3. Taking Antidepressants For The First Time
4. Starting Antidepressants? I Have Something to Tell You
(HealthyPlace Mental Health)
5. Antidepressants Make it Harder to Empathize, Harder to Climax, and Harder to Cry. | Julie Holland
(Big Think)
6. Should You Be On ANTIDEPRESSANTS? - How Do You Know If Antidepressants Are For You?
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