A Note About Antidepressant Treatment

Image: Destiny by John William Waterhouse
Destiny by John William Waterhouse

Finding the effective antidepressant for the depressive is at this point far from an exact science, although the outlook is improving as we discover more about depression. Doctors for the most part take their best guess based on their experience and the prevailing wisdom. They consider the type of depression the patient suffers from, other medications he or she is taking, the patient’s age, how well he or she will deal with the side effects, and other factors. Some patients have to try three, four or more medications before one “clicks” with their chemistry. Some, like me, are successful with the first medication they try. Remember that the chances are very good that your doctor will be able to find an effective medicine for you. As hard as it is, be patient and hopeful and keep trying different medications.

I hear again and again of doctors who start a patient out at a low dosage, and keep the patient at that dosage even when the medication is not working. Before switching you to another medication, your doctor should try raising the dosage. I had to have the level of both the antidepressants I was on raised not once, but several times. Buy a medication “bible” like The Pill Book, and find out what the normal range of dosage is for your medication.

Your best bet, as with other aspects of this illness, is to educate yourself about the medications available. You are then, in essence, your own “second opinion.” I have known of doctors who forget to tell patients of possible side effects of medication, or what other medication or foods should be avoided while taking their antidepressants. Make sure you know what questions to ask the doctor to attain the maximum effect from your medication.

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