How Should Medication Be Taken

All antidepressants must be taken for at least 4 to 6 weeks before they have a full effect.   Medication should continue even if the patient if feeling better to prevent the depression from returning.

Medication should be stopped only under a doctor’s supervi- sion. Some medications need to be gradually stopped to give the body time to adjust. Although antidepressants are not habit- forming or addictive, suddenly ending an antidepressant can cause withdrawal symptoms or lead to a relapse of the depres- sion. Some individuals, such as those with chronic or recurrent depression, may need to stay on the medication indefinitely.

In addition, if one medication does not work, consider trying another. NIMH-funded research has shown that people who did not get well after taking a first medica- tion increased their chances of beating the depression after they switched to a different medication or added another medication to their existing one.28,29

Sometimes stimulants, anti-anxiety medications, or other medications are used together with an antidepressant, espe- cially if a person has a co-existing illness. However, neither anti-anxiety medications nor stimulants are effective against depression when taken alone, and both should be taken only under a doctor’s close supervision.

More information about mental health medications is avail- able on the NIMH website at health/publications/mental-health-medications/index.shtml.


Scroll to Top