If you’re starting a new depression medication, you may wonder what to expect along the way. Your experience may be different than someone else’s, and it may vary from one medicine to the next. Nevertheless, here are some changes you may see while adjusting to antidepressants.
Everyone Goes through a Transition Period
No matter what antidepressant you take or what your medical history may be, there’s going to be an adjustment period. You may experience changes right away, or you may notice them after a couple weeks on the medication.
You may feel emotionally numb for a while, or you may seem calmer than usual. These symptoms may last for a few days, or they could last much longer. Every person goes through a unique experience.
Factors That Impact Your Experience with Antidepressants
There are several factors that contribute to your adjustment to antidepressants. For starters, there are different categories of medication your psychiatrist may prescribe. Many antidepressants, anti-anxiety medicines and mood stabilizers are designed to be taken every day. These tend to reach maximum effect after 30 days. Other medications are designed for situational responses, like calming a panic attack or improving sleep quality. These will go into effect shortly after taking them.
Your medical history and the circumstances surrounding your depression will also impact your experience with medication. Someone who has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may respond to medication differently than someone with general depression. Your psychiatrist will work with you to find the best medication for your unique circumstances.
How Long Will the Adjustment Period Last?
Once again, this varies from person to person. However, we recommend taking a daily medication for at least 30 days so it can go into full effect. This will let you see how you truly respond to the medicine, and if any dosage adjustment is necessary. You may feel ‘off’ for a few days or even weeks when you first take the medication, but that feeling should normalize over time.
When to Consider Changing Antidepressants
Your psychiatrist will keep track of your feelings and symptoms during the adjustment period. If you experience any alarming side effects, your psychiatrist may recommend changing doses or shifting to a different medication altogether. If the side effects are mild, your psychiatrist may recommend continuing with the medication until your body fully adjusts to it.
If you have experience thoughts of self-harm or suicide, contact your psychiatrist immediately. Do NOT stop taking your medication without getting advice from your psychiatrist. Some antidepressants require a specific detox period to avoid withdrawals. Stopping the medication altogether could increase negative side effects.
The Big Takeaway: Talk to Your Psychiatrist
Your psychiatrist will help you find the right medication for your body, your symptoms, your goals, and your lifestyle. If antidepressants aren’t right for you, your therapist can help you find other coping strategies to control your depression. Look to these professionals for advice and guidance throughout this process. Maintain honest, open communication with your mental health providers, and rest assured they have your best interest at heart.
To schedule an appointment with a therapist or psychiatrist near you, contact Family Counseling Associates at (978) 222-3121.