If the antidepressants you’re taking are not working, you’re not alone. Only about 10-30% of people feel like the first antidepressants their doctor prescribed work for them.
So, don’t despair, and don’t keep this to yourself. There are plenty of options to find a solution that will work for you. It’s important to your mental and physical well-being that you speak with your doctor to discuss your options sooner rather than later.
Remember, your doctor is there to help you and they can only act on the information you give them. With this in mind, here are a few things to discuss with your doctor to help find a better solution.
Talk About How You’re Taking Your Medication
It’s worth talking through your daily routine with your doctor and how you take your medication. You wouldn’t be the first person to miss something or not read the instructions in detail.
Sometimes they have anecdotal advice based on discussions from other patients feeling the same as you, so it’s worth exploring.
Ask About Other Types of Antidepressants
There are lots of types and brands of antidepressants. As mentioned above, only about 10-30% of patients find the first antidepressant they try provides the relief they need. It’s often a case of trial and error taking other antidepressants.
Your doctor prescribed the antidepressant you take based on your symptoms and some other information specific to you. If they aren’t working, talk through how you’re feeling and they will likely recommend a different drug.
There are three main classes of antidepressants:
● Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), like Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro.
● Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), like Pristiq, Effexor, and Cymbalta.
● Tricyclics, tetracyclic, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), like Pemelor, and Norpramin.
These drugs work in different ways and have different possible side effects. It’s a discussion for you and your doctor, but it’s good to be aware that there are many other options.
Discuss Therapy Options
There’s a lot of evidence to show that a combined treatment of psychotherapy and other forms of therapy with antidepressants is more effective than taking antidepressants alone.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that is commonly prescribed for depression and anxiety disorders. CBT therapists work on helping patients identify patterns of thinking that may cause harm and work with patients to find a solution.
Discuss Lifestyle Changes
You may have made some lifestyle changes before and not seen any results. Combined with antidepressants, however, making some changes to your lifestyle may be more effective.
The three areas to focus on are:
● Healthy eating
Exercise stimulates the brain to release feel-good hormones, such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. These are the same chemicals that some antidepressants help produce more of. Exercise will also increase your appetite and help you sleep better, which leads on to the next two points.
Eating healthy also has some positive mental health benefits. Healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, fish, and lean proteins give us the nutrients we need to lift our mood and produce more of those feel-good hormones.
Sleep issues are often the first sign of depression. It’s a vicious cycle. Lack of sleep can worsen the symptoms of depression, and when you’re depressed, it’s harder to sleep well.
If you’re not sleeping well, discuss this with your doctor and see if they can suggest anything to treat this separately. Once you start sleeping better, you will likely see an improvement in your symptoms.
Tips to Help You Talk About It with Your Doctor
Don’t feel embarrassed or bad if you find it difficult to talk to your doctor about how you feel on your medication. Depression is hard to talk about, and it’s difficult to know how and what you should be feeling on your medication if it’s new to you.
Keep a journal of how you feel for a few days before you see your doctor. It will make it easier to recall exactly how you were feeling and at what times. There might be a pattern they can spot from doing this.
Also, ask a friend or family member to go with you if you’re nervous. Seeing a friendly face in there and having some moral support will boost your confidence.