Answering Top Questions About Depression Medication

Doctor gives patient depression medication and answers questions

If you have been diagnosed with depression or have a lot of depression symptoms, you may wonder if you need depression medication. You might be concerned about how meds might affect you. There’s also a stigma behind mental health medication, which can make you apprehensive about depression medication. Here is an honest, well-researched overview to help guide you in your choice.

Are you concerned that you might need depression medication? Call us at Georgetown Behavioral Hospital to get the answers you need.

Does depression medication work?

One of the most common questions about depression medication is this: Does depression medication work? The question has been the subject of many studies over the years since antidepressants were first used. The answer seems to be that, yes, depression medications work to relieve depression to some degree for most people.

In one study, depression medication worked better than cognitive behavioral therapy for five depression symptoms: depressed mood, anxiety, somatic symptoms (bodily symptoms), feelings of guilt, and suicidal thoughts. A study on unipolar depression concluded that both depression medication and psychotherapy help with that type of depression. However, medication was more effective for people with dysthymia, a relatively mild but longer-lasting type of depression. 

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It’s important to understand a few things about depression medication. First, everyone’s brain chemistry and other factors are different. That means what works for one person might not work for another. About 60% of people with major depressive disorder have good results with antidepressants. However, the other 40% don’t have adequate results. 

Another thing to remember is that antidepressants usually take a few weeks before you see any results. Therefore, it helps to be patient with the process and talk to your doctor about how things are going.

What does depression medication do?

Depression medication works by increasing the activity of neurotransmitters in your brain. These neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that affect the way you feel, think, and ultimately behave. The chemicals affected by depression medication include serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. 

As the activity increases, your symptoms of depression will lessen if that depression medication works for you. Although scientists have observed that these changes do happen, they don’t yet know exactly how they work. 

What medication is used for depression?

Medications Used to Treat Depression infographic

Many medications are used for depression. One of the reasons for this is that everyone’s brain is different. In addition, everyone’s depression is different, with different symptoms, a different timeline, and varying situational factors. 

Here are the different types of depression medication that is commonly used today.

  • SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), such as Prozac, Celexa, Cipralex, and Zoloft.
  • SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), including Effexor, Cymbalta, and Pristiq.
  • NDRIs (norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors), either Wellbutrin or Zyban.
  • NaSSAs (noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressants) – Remeron 
  • Nonselective Cyclics – a group of older depression medications that include Elavil, Tofranil, and Anafranil
  • MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), another older medication that includes Nardil and Parnate and requires a special diet. However, one new MAOI is available, called Manerix, which does not require any dietary changes.

What is the best medication for depression?

The key to the question of what the best medication for depression is has a lot to do with the individual taking the medication and the symptoms they’re having. Psychiatrists have the training and experience to determine the best medication to start you on. 

For example, if one of your symptoms is insomnia, they might start you with a medication like Remeron, which is one of the most sedating antidepressants. If you have anxiety along with depression, they might prescribe an SSRI or SNRI, both of which can be used for anxiety. 

Another thing to know is that newer antidepressants have been shown to be more effective on average than older depression medication options. In one study, the researchers concluded that the newer antidepressants, such as SSRIs and SNRIs, were much more effective in the acute treatment of depression. 

Do I need medication for depression?

If your psychiatrist diagnoses you with depression, it’s likely that depression medication will help you recover and get better faster. However, if you aren’t sure whether you have depression yet, it’s important to seek help when you see the signs of depression. The following are some of the most common symptoms.

  • Depressed mood
  • Feeling unreasonably guilty, hopeless, or helpless
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Loss of interest in things you once found enjoyable
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Trouble making decisions, concentrating, or remembering
  • Thoughts of death or suicidal behavior
  • Irritability
  • Unexplained pains or digestive problems

If you have these symptoms, talk to a psychiatrist to find out whether they recommend depression medication for you. Suppose you just aren’t sure whether you have depression? Then, you can ask a psychiatrist to give you a mental health check and evaluate whether you need depression medication. 

I’m depressed but don’t want to take medication. What can I do?

It’s understandable to say, “I’m depressed but don’t want to take medication.” Depression medication often comes with side effects. Yet, newer antidepressants have fewer side effects now. Beyond that, if you do have side effects, you can discuss it with your psychiatrist, who might recommend a change.

If you still don’t want to take medication, there are other types of treatment to help you. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be extremely effective for some people, for example. Besides therapy and medication, you can find many treatments for your unique needs at a psychiatric hospital such as Georgetown Behavioral Hospital. 

How should I talk to my doctor about depression medication?

Talking to your doctor about depression medication should not be a scary or intimidating situation. Your doctor is there to explain medications to you, recommend the right ones for you, and make changes whenever needed. They are also there to listen to your concerns. You should show your doctor respect, but you can also be honest and open about what you are experiencing.

Many people find it helpful to make a list of things they want to talk about before they go to their appointment. Consider writing down any side effects you’re having. Describe whether and how much your mood and other symptoms are changing or improving. 

When you see your doctor, ask your questions, and listen carefully to their response. Your doctor will appreciate you working with them to discover what works best for you and where they need to reevaluate your depression medication. 

Can I be forced to take depression medication?

No, no one can force you to take depression medication. If your doctor prescribes an antidepressant for you, they do it to help you achieve your mental health goals. It is ultimately your decision as to whether you will follow through by taking them or not. 

How can I get depression medication?

The only safe way to get depression medication is to get a prescription from a doctor or psychiatrist and have it filled at a licensed pharmacy. Your doctor will not only make sure you have a prescription if you need it. They will also make sure it is the right depression medication for you.

Georgetown Behavioral Hospital offers treatment for major depression as well as other types of depression and various other mental health disorders. For those who have depression along with substance abuse, we offer a dual diagnosis treatment program.

Our facility is located in Georgetown, Ohio, and is a voluntary admission psychiatric hospital. We have a full staff of medical, psychiatric, and psychology professionals to help you recover from your mental health issues. Treatments include medication, psychotherapy, drug detox, and many other therapeutic interventions. If you live in or near Southern Ohio, Georgetown Behavioral Hospital is here to help you.

Could your feelings of sadness and hopelessness be helped by depression medication? Talk to our team of experts at Georgetown Behavioral Hospital.

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