Antidepressants medicines are often effective for most people. No antidepressant works perfectly for all patients. Many times the patient will be switched to a different medication or combination of medicines until the right formula for wellness is found for that particular individual. Unfortunately, the negative effects (side effects) tend to show up before the positive effects. Not everyone experiences side effects and they are different for each type of drug.
Some examples of side effects are:
- Blurred vision
- Change in appetite
- Weight gain/loss
- Trouble sleeping or lack of energy
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
- Sexual dysfunction or lack of arousal
If the side effects become unpleasant, an increase or decrease in medicine dosage or a change of medicine may be called for.
Signs of improvement may be seen early in treatment, although for the others the benefits might take longer. Appetite and sleep return to normal. Interest in hobbies and social interaction gradually returns. Sexual arousal and satisfaction should return to normal after the medication has had time to take affect.
Patients do need to realize that caring for this disease is a lifelong process. Medication (and possible therapy) will be needed for the rest of the person’s life. Many patients feel the positive results and quit taking the medication, thinking they are cured. Remember that this illness is not curable. Stopping therapy or medication is only an option that a doctor can give.
Special care must be taken to see that the individual is receiving full benefits of the treatment. Sometimes this means altering ones behaviors. Persons on antidepressant medication are forbidden to drink due to the reaction of the drugs mixed with alcohol. Medication must be taken on the schedule given by the doctor to maintain the level of wellness. If medication makes the person drowsy, driving and operating heavy machinery should be avoided. The person actually should not drive until they know exactly how all medicines affect them and this may take several days or weeks.
Making time for doctor appointments is something else the patient must remember to do. Therapists are usually seen once a week in the beginning of treatment and eventually every other week on a continuing basis. The psychiatrist or doctor, who prescribes medication, utilizes an initial one-hour evaluation and follows up with monthly 10 to 15 minute appointments, which are eventually spaced, to every other month. Communication between the two caregivers is key for the patient’s maximum recovery. Occasionally, the same doctor will serve as therapist and psychiatrist, giving the patient the ability to complete both therapy and medication checks in one appointment.
The patient, himself, plays the biggest role in his recovery. Only he can decide to follow the treatment plan. Upon choosing the path to feeling better, he has lots of options to undertake individually. More exercise, eating healthy, and avoiding stress are just a sample of many ways to speed up the process. Getting advice from others with the disease is also a comfort. Local communities often have support groups and the Internet is full of mailing lists, chat rooms, and websites for people with depression wanting to communicate with each other. Positive thinking and realizing they aren’t alone will help advance treatment as much as the medication and therapy.
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