groups of antidepressant medications are most often used to treat depressive
disorders: tricyclics, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and lithium.
Lithium is the treatment of choice for bipolar disorder and some forms of
recurring, major depression. Sometimes your doctor will try a variety of
antidepressants before finding the medication or combination of medications most
effective for you. Sometimes the dosage must be increased to be effective. Also,
new types of antidepressants are being developed all the time, and one of these
may be the best for you.
now two new classes of antidepressants which are neither tricyclics nor MAOIs,
and which generally lack the side effects associated with these two traditional
classes of drugs. The first of these is fluoxetine, a serotonin re-uptake
inhibitor; the other is bupropion, believed to act on the dopaminergic system.
often are tempted to stop medication too soon. It
is important to keep taking medication until your doctor says to stop, even if
you feel better beforehand. Some medications must be stopped gradually to
give your body time to adjust. For individuals with bipolar disorder or chronic
major depression, medication may have to become part of everyday life to avoid
drugs are not habit-forming, so you need not be concerned about that. However,
as is the case with any type of medication prescribed for more than a few days,
antidepressants have to be carefully monitored to see if you are getting the
correct dosage. Your doctor will want to check the dosage and its effectiveness
If you are
taking MAO inhibitors, you will have to avoid certain foods, such as cheeses,
wines, and pickles. Be sure you get a complete list of foods you should not eat
from your doctor and always carry it with you. Other forms of antidepressants
require no food restrictions.
mix medications of any
kind--prescribed, over-the counter, or borrowed--without
consulting your doctor. Be sure to tell your dentist or any other medical
specialist who prescribes a drug that you are taking antidepressants. Some of
the most benign drugs when taken alone can cause severe and dangerous side
effects if taken with others. Some drugs, like alcohol, reduce the effectiveness
of antidepressants and should be avoided. This includes wine, beer, and hard
drugs or sedatives are not
antidepressants. They are sometimes prescribed along with antidepressants;
however, they should not be taken alone for a depressive disorder. Sleeping
pills and stimulants, such as amphetamines, are also inappropriate.
Be sure to
call your doctor if you have a question about any drug or if you are having a
problem you believe is drug related.
may cause mid and, usually, temporary side effects in some people. Typically
these are annoying, but not serious. However, unusual side effects or those that
interfere with functioning should be reported to your doctor. The most common
side effects, and ways to deal with them, are:
mouth--drink lots of water; chew
sugarless gum; clean teeth daily.
bran cereals, prunes, fruit, and vegetables.
problems--emptying your bladder
may be troublesome, and your urine stream may not be as strong as usual; call
your doctor if there is any pain.
problems--sexual functioning may
change; if worrisome, discuss with your doctor.
vision--this will pass soon; do
not get new glasses.
from bed or chair slowly.
will pass soon; do not drive or operate heavy equipment if feeling drowsy or
antidepressants have different types of side effects:
will usually go away.
when it occurs, it is transient after each dose.
and insomnia--these may occur
during the first few weeks; dosage reductions or time will usually resolve them.
this happens for the first time after the drug is taken and is more than
transient, consult your doctor.
National Institute of Mental Health