Explains what antidepressants are, how they work, possible side effects and information about withdrawal.
Before you decide to take any medication, you should make sure you have all the facts you need to feel confident about your decision. (See our page on what you should know before taking any psychiatric drug).
All drugs carry levels of risk in different circumstances, and can affect different people in different ways. However, there are some general circumstances in which you should be particularly cautious about taking antidepressants.
For specific risks associated with individual antidepressants you can look up the name of the drug in our antidepressants A–Z.
You should tell your doctor about any other drugs you are taking before taking an antidepressant, including any illegal drugs and anything you have bought over the counter.
This is important because of:
You can find out details of known interactions for individual antidepressants in our antidepressants A–Z.
If you are under 18, you should be aware that:
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) produces guidelines on depression in children and young people, which gives recommendations about which antidepressants can be given to children and who can prescribe them.
Alcohol does interact with most antidepressants. This can:
Remember: alcohol itself is a depressant. Drinking alcoholic drinks might be one of the things that’s causing you to feel depressed in the first place, without you realising it.
See our information on food and mood, for more information on how the things you eat and drink can affect the way you feel.
This information was published in 2016. We will revise it in 2019.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.