Antidepressants are a safe and highly effective means of treating anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Antidepressants have been around since the 1950s and have been commonly used for the last 20 years. The antidepressants that we prescribe are non-controlled medications, which means they aren’t classified as having euphoric or addictive properties. They’ve been studied extensively and are all approved by the FDA.
These medications are not known to cause cravings, hazardous behaviors, or examples of prolonged addictive behavior. However, antidepressants can cause a withdrawal effect if you stop or reduce your use without consulting your prescriber first. If you decide that you no longer want to continue taking your antidepressant, please let your Cerebral team know.
When will the antidepressants start to work?
Typically, antidepressants need to be taken every day for 4 to 6 weeks before causing noticeable improvements. You’ll most likely feel the full benefits after 2 to 3 months. This varies from person to person, so it’s important to stick with your long-term Cerebral treatment plan to receive the full benefits of the medication.
If you don’t notice benefits before the 6-week mark, your Cerebral prescriber will most likely encourage you to continue taking your medication until the 6-week mark. It’s important to give your medication enough time to build a therapeutic dose before changing medications.
What are potential side effects of antidepressants?
Different classes of antidepressants have different side effects, since they all affect the body in a slightly different manner. Our personal biochemistry is also unique, so side effects can vary from person to person.
Common side effects of a class of antidepressants called SSRIs and SNRIs include:
- feeling agitated, shaky, or anxious
- loss of appetite
- blurred vision
- dry mouth
- excessive sweating
- low sex drive
- difficulty achieving orgasm
- erectile dysfunction
Less-common side effects include:
- bruising or bleeding easily
- movement problems like stiffness or shaking
Serotonin syndrome is uncommon but is also a potential side effect linked to SSRIs and SNRIs. Serotonin syndrome happens when serotonin levels become too high in the brain. It usually occurs when an antidepressant is used in combination with another medication.
Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:
- muscle twitching
Symptoms such as fever, seizures, arrhythmia, and loss of consciousness can occur in more severe serotonin syndrome. If you or someone you know is experiencing serotonin syndrome, please seek emergency medical help immediately and call 911.
An increase in suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm can also occur when first taking antidepressants, especially for those under the age of 25. If you start having thoughts of harming yourself or anyone else, please go to your nearest emergency room or call 911. You can also call the national suicide hotline at 988.
Common side effects of antidepressants outside of the SSRI and SNRI classes include:
- weight gain
- issues with sexual arousal and performance
How long do side effects last?
Side effects are often temporary. You might experience some of these side effects in the first 1 to 3 weeks of taking your medication. These might subside as your body adapts to the medication.
If the side effects continue to persist, tell your Cerebral prescriber, care counselor, or therapist. If the side effects interfere with your daily life and functioning, please let us know so we can determine the best next steps.
Some degree of side effects may occur with most medications, so it might be hard to find an option without any side effects. Your prescriber will weigh the benefits and risks of each medication with you and help you determine which treatment plan might be best for you.