Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the US. It affects over 16 million Americans, which equates to about 6.7 percent of the population.
If you feel like you might be suffering from depression, you’re probably asking yourself, “Should I take antidepressants?”
Antidepressants are an excellent way to treat depression. However, they’re not for everyone. Check out this guide to learn when to take antidepressants:
Are You Depressed?
The first thing you need to figure out is if you’re suffering from depression. It’s important to understand that there’s a difference between depression and sadness.
Sadness is an emotion we all experience from time to time, whereas depression is an actual mental disorder. So, how do you tell the difference between the two?
Sadness is often a response to an unfortunate life event. Losing a job, the loss or absence of a loved one, financial trouble, or issues at home can all lead to depression. Sadness typically passes over time. However, if you become unable to resume normal life functions, this could be a sign of depression.
Here are some of the top symptoms of depression:
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- The continual feeling of sadness or hopelessness
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Change in eating patterns that result in either weight loss or weight gain
- Having trouble remembering, making decisions, or concentrating
- Feeling tired all the time
- Feeling guilty or unworthy for no obvious reason
- Contemplating death or suicide
If you find you’re exhibiting four or more of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor.
Understand the Benefits, Risks, and Side Effects
The main benefit of antidepressants is that they can improve or completely relieve your symptoms. If you tried counseling and making lifestyle changes, antidepressants are an excellent alternative.
If you’re experiencing severe symptoms of depression, medication combined with therapy is usually the best solution. If your symptoms are relatively mild, you may find that lifestyle changes are enough to make a difference. There are also other options like repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation as an alternative treatment that doesn’t require you to take any medication.
If you decide to go on antidepressants, it’s important to understand that it can take weeks or even months for your medication to start working. Side effects depend on the drug you’re taking, but some include:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Weight changes
- Sexual problems
- Trouble sleeping
It may take a few tries before you find a medication that works for you.
Talk to Your Doctor
Ultimately, the decision to take antidepressants should be one that you discuss with your doctor. You can talk to your doctor about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing, and your doctor will then administer a test to see how severe your depression is.
After this, you’ll discuss whether therapy, antidepressants, or a combination of both are right for you.
Now that you know when to take antidepressants, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your doctor and decide if they’re right for you. Remember, taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health.