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Facts about antidepressants

Facts about antidepressants

Many people with depression are successfully treated with antidepressants. Despite their proven effectiveness, there are many concerns and myths within the general population about this type of medication.
Current scientific research shows that:

  • Antidepressants are not addictive
  • Antidepressants are not stimulants or tranquilizers and do not make you "high"
  • Antidepressants are not the same as antipsychotic medications
  • Antidepressants have a balancing effect on the neurotransmitters in the brain

Antidepressants do not work immediately:

  • A depressive episode does not disappear overnight, even if you are taking an effective medication
  • Antidepressants do not work immediately after taking them
  • Usually it takes 2 to 6 weeks of taking antidepressant medication on a daily basis before you experience an improvement

Antidepressants should not be stopped suddenly: 

  • It is important to continue taking the antidepressants you have been prescribed, even after you experience improvements
  • An early and sudden stop to antidepressant treatment increases the risk of depression coming back
  • To reduce the risk of depression coming back, antidepressants should be taken for 4 to 9 months after the start of the first episode 
  • Depending on the specific situation, medication may need to be continued for more than 9 months

As well as antidepressants, there are other groups of medications, whose effects are completely different to those of antidepressants:

  • Antipsychotics/neuroleptics are used to treat psychoses and schizophrenia
  • Anxiolytics and hypnotics (tranquilliser/sleep inducing drugs) such as benzodiazepines are used to address symptoms of anxiety and insomnia. With these drugs, there is a significant risk of developing an addiction
  • Benzodiazepines taken daily more than 6 weeks can cause addiction
  • In older people, benzodiazepines can have toxic effects, resulting in depressive-like symptoms and cognitive deficits

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