Antidepressant drugs reportedly do a lot of good. Retired TV talk show host David Letterman said earlier this year that an antidepressant at one point saved his life, The New York Times reported
. Still, the use of antidepressants comes with certain side effects and risks.
While you probably won’t experience all of these side effects, here are some things to watch if you start taking an antidepressant.
People who start using an antidepressant often feel various initial side effects such as a headache, anxiety or upset stomach, with those usually subsiding within three weeks, said Drugs.com
. That website recommended those feeling such symptoms talk to their physician before they stop taking their antidepressant.
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Medication Not Working
Among major warning signs that the medication isn’t working effectively include the patient’s feeling aggression and anger, having thoughts of suicide, experiencing worsened depression or anxiety or feeling dangerously impulsive, said All About Counseling
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea can start fairly quickly after you start taking an antidepressant, though it may subside within a month, according to Drugs.com. That website suggested those who experience nausea or vomiting ask their physician or pharmacist if they can use an antacid or Pepto Bismol, or take their medication with food.
Drowsiness can be a temporary side effect for someone who has started taking an antidepressant, and may subside after a few weeks, according to Drugs.com. That website recommended such patients ask their physician if they may take their medication before bed. Antidepressants can also cause insomnia, Drugs.com said. It suggested those experiencing that problem ask their physician if they may take their medication in the morning, “or add a low dose of a sedating antidepressant (like trazodone) at bedtime.”
Varying factors could be responsible for why people often gain weight when they start taking antidepressants, according to Drugs.com. It said: “When your mood improves, you may have a better appetite, and this can lead to unexpected weight gain. In addition, lack of physical activity or water retention can also lead to weight gain.”
Many antidepressants commonly bring about sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction or a decreased sex drive, according to Drugs.com. Potential strategies to cope with that include taking drugs to deal with erectile dysfunction or switching to another antidepressant that brings reduced sexual side effects.
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When women take antidepressants during pregnancy, they increase the risk of problems for their unborn baby, according to WebMd
. That website recommended a pregnant woman consult with her physician as she decides whether to begin or continue taking antidepressants. WebMD said, “’It's important to consider your health, the health of your unborn child, and the well-being of your family, including your other children."
Certain types of antidepressants known as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) can increase the patient's risk for stomach bleeding, “so caution should be advised in patients with a history of ulcers or taking a blood thinner,” said Drugs.com.
Risk of Seizures
The antidepressant Bupropion can help reverse sexual dysfunction and re-energize people who feel fatigued but should not be administered to patients who are at risk for seizures, according to Drugs.com.
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