Medication for Depression
In the United States, 1 in 6 people will experience clinical depression in their lifetime. Clinical depression goes beyond everyday sadness and may cause serious, long-lasting symptoms. Depression can affect a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks. Treatment for depression is important because long-term untreated depression can lead to a lower quality of life and increased risk for suicide.
Common symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, diminished interest in activities, weight loss or gain, insomnia, hypersomnia, fatigue, inappropriate guilt, difficulty concentrating, low motivation, and suicide ideation. Medications can help with symptoms of depression, although not all people with depression may need medication. Medication is recommended for those that have moderate to severe depression and can also be used for those with mild depression if symptoms are not improving with therapy. I recommend starting medication if your symptoms of depression are starting to affect your ability to complete daily tasks and negatively impact your job, home life, and relationships.
Commonly used anti-depressant medications include SSRIs (Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro) and SNRIs (Effexor, Cymbalta). Antidepressant medications take time to work. Some people may notice slight changes after 2-3 weeks of starting medications, but it can often take 6-12 weeks to notice the full effects of the medication. Common side effects of anti-depressants include drowsiness, dry mouth, headache, and nausea.
A combination of medication and therapy is recommended for depression treatment. This combo therapy is more effective than either type of treatment on its own. Therapy overall can have long-term benefits that will last after the medication has been stopped. If you ever decide to stop taking the medication, it is important to discuss with your provider, as stopping a medication can be dangerous or cause side-effects. Your provider will be able to assist and provide feedback that is conducive with your specific needs and goals.
If you are considering starting medication for depression, reach out to your therapist and they can help you schedule an appointment for medication management.
By: Janna Murphy
DNP, APRN, FNP-BC