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Signs Your Anti-Depressant Isn't Working

For most people, finding the right depression treatment is a trial-and-error process. An antidepressant may work well for one person but not at all for someone else.


One way to improve your chances of finding a medication that works best for you is to look for signs that your antidepressant isn’t working well enough or is no longer working the way it should and communicating things you notice with your doctor.


If you or someone you love has had an inadequate response to an antidepressant, you might qualify for a clinical trial at Green Mountain Research Institute. To learn more or find out if you qualify visit : greenmountainresearch.org

 
1. You Feel Better Right Away, but It doesn’t Last

The effects of antidepressants are thought to be related to changes in neurochemicals in your brain, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine — changes that usually take 2 to 12 weeks to set in, with a peak at 6 to 8 weeks. So, if you feel different immediately after starting a depression treatment, it might just be a placebo effect.

Sometimes that placebo effect wears off, and the actual effect of the antidepressant kicks in. Other times, the placebo just wears off, and the intended effects of the antidepressant are never felt. In this second case, it isn’t that the medication stopped working — it’s that the medication (beyond the placebo effect) just didn’t work for you in the first place. So even though it might be exciting and you may be very hopeful that a new treatment will work...it's important to stay neutral when trying out something new until it's had a chance to really make changes.


2. You Skipped a Dose — or Several

It’s a common situation — busy people often miss doses or take their medication at irregular intervals. The trouble is, not taking your medication consistently can prevent it from working as well as it should — or prevent it from working at all. This can cause people to abandon what otherwise might be an effective treatment. It's wise to stick to the regime that you are prescribed so that you can best gauge if the treatment is actually working for you.


3. You Can’t Sleep Well

Antidepressants can make you feel sleepier, or less sleepy. Sometimes antidepressants can also cause vivid dreams, 'sleep spazzes' (sudden jerking when you're in a deep sleep), and, rarely, seizures. If you notice that you are struggling with sleep, you should communicate this with your prescriber.


4. Your Mood Is Still Low After a Few Months

It's common for people to not really see the full benefits of an antidepressant until after about two to three months of taking it. If that doesn’t seem to be happening, discuss this with the healthcare provider, as you might need to try a different antidepressant or have the dose adjustment.


5. You Feel More Energetic — but Still Feel Blue

If you feel more physical energy after starting an antidepressant, but you still have depression, this may be a sign that the medication you are taking isn't right for you. Increased physical energy combined with depression is a bad combination that can make you act out or increase your risk of suicide, she explains. You should definitely report these symptoms to your doctor right away.


6. You’re Experiencing Unpleasant Side Effects

Deciding which depression medication is best for you often comes down to side effects. If you gain weight or have sexual problems on one antidepressant, for example, you may want to switch to try to find one that doesn't make you experience those side effects.


7. You Show Symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome

Although antidepressants are meant to help you feel better, in some cases, when combined with other medications you are taking or foods you are eating it can lead to serotonin syndrome, which is an uncommon condition involving an overabundance of serotonin in the body.

Symptoms to watch out for, include fever, aches, shakes, sweats, fatigue, irritability, a bad headache, confusion, agitation, restlessness, dizziness, difficulty seeing or walking, muscle twitching, muscle tension, or jaw clenching.

Typically, serotonin syndrome happens within days or weeks of starting an antidepressant or after a dose increase.


8. Your Antidepressant Doesn’t Pack the Same Punch

If you’ve been on an antidepressant for a long time, your body may develop a tolerance. As a result, a medication that once worked well at quelling your symptoms no longer has the same effect. Sometimes, you might just need a dose increase. In other cases, trying a different medication or treatment could be helpful.


9. Your Depression Worsens

If your depression symptoms get worse as soon as you start taking an antidepressant, or they get better and then very suddenly get worse, it’s a sign that the depression medication isn’t working properly, and you should see your healthcare professional right away.

Specific warning signs to watch for include feeling agitated or restless, pacing or constant movement, hand wringing, or feeling generally out of control.


10. Your Mood Has Improved, but You’re Still Not Yourself

If you experience some relief on an antidepressant, but it’s not the relief you hoped for, talk to your doctor about other treatments, or perhaps even a combination of treatments. Options may include trying another depression medication or the addition of counseling, psychotherapy, mood-boosting cardio exercise, or light therapy to your treatment regimen. Research has shown that adding psychotherapy to medication treatment produced better outcomes for people with depression than just medication alone.

 

While taking an antidepressant can be very helpful for managing depression, you might not find the right one for you on the first try.

If your medication isn’t meeting your expectations, don’t give up. Consider talking to a doctor who specializes in treating mood disorders if you aren’t already seeing one. And be on the lookout for — and tell your doctor about — any worrisome symptoms you experience while you’re taking any antidepressant. We must advocate for ourselves to see improvement. Speak up until you find something that works for you, because everyone deserves to feel better.


With clinical trials, we are constantly finding new, alternative care options for those struggling with mental health disorders. Green Mountain Research Institute currently has openly enrolling trials for those who have had an inadequate response to an antidepressant. To learn more or find out if you qualify visit : greenmountainresearch.org

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