Myths about Antidepressants
In an age when information is easy to access, it can be difficult to know what resources to trust. Antidepressant drugs are used to treat a variety of mental health and psychological disorders including Major Depressive Disorders and Anxiety Disorders. Antidepressants can play an important role in treating symptoms of depression and anxiety, but common misperceptions about these medications may prevent individuals from taking them. Below are common myths and related facts about antidepressants:
MYTH: Antidepressants can be addictive.
FACT: While some treatments for anxiety can be addictive, the class of drugs used in the treatment of depression, such as SSRIs, are not addictive. However, because of the pharmacokinetics of some of these medications, it is not recommended that one suddenly stop taking them without the guidance of their prescribing physician.
MYTH: Once started on antidepressants, you are on them for life.
FACT: For many people, after effectively trialing antidepressants for about 6 months to a year, under the guidance of their prescribing physician they can come off their medications and ultimately do fine. If this is something one is interested in doing it is recommended that they continue to be monitored by their physician for some time to ensure that symptoms don’t return.
MYTH: If the first try on an antidepressant doesn’t work, others won’t work either.
FACT: We have several classes of antidepressants and typically if a trial on one class is not effective there is a good chance that a trial on a different class would be more effective. Common classes of antidepressants used in the USA include SSRI, SNRI, TCA, NDRI, MAOI.
MYTH: If none of the antidepressants work for you then nothing will.
FACT: In cases where antidepressants alone are not able to render full remission, other options could include adding mood stabilizers or second-generation antipsychotics or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Treatment for depression renders the best results when it is combined with psychotherapy.
MYTH: Antidepressants will change your personality or prevent you from feeling emotions.
FACT: Antidepressants are designed to return one’s mood to its normal state, however some people have reported “emotional numbing” while on antidepressants. When this is the case, it means that antidepressant may not be the right one for you, so communicate with your physician to find the right medication for you. Antidepressants are not capable of changing one’s personality.
MYTH: Antidepressants have terrible side effects.
FACT: Most people can tolerate the initial side effects of antidepressants because they can be temporary. Common side effects range from nausea, headache, diarrhea, and dry mouth, to sexual side effects. It is best to communicate with your prescribing physician to find the best antidepressant for you, because the best medication should be one which treats your depression without causing intolerable side effects.
MYTH: Antidepressants don’t need to be taken every day.
FACT: Antidepressants must be taken daily at a therapeutic dose. It takes about 4-6 weeks before effects are felt.
If you have been experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety and they aren’t improving, it is important that you reach out for assistance and support. You may contact your doctor or Behavioral Health Partners. Your health professional will walk you through your options, which might include psychotherapy, and/or medication. For more information on mental illness, treatments, and local resources, please refer to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Behavioral Health Partners is brought to you by Well-U, offering eligible individuals mental health services for stress, anxiety, and depression. Our team of mental health professionals can accurately assess your symptoms and make recommendations for treatment. To schedule an intake appointment, give us a call at (585) 276-6900.
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