Explains what antidepressants are, how they work, possible side effects and information about withdrawal.
If you experience depression, you may:
Taking antidepressants may help to lift your mood. This can help you feel more able to do things that don’t feel possible while you’re depressed. This may include using other types of support for your mental health. See our page on treatments for depression to find other options which may help.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) produces guidelines on best practice in healthcare. This includes guidelines for prescribing antidepressants for people with different levels of depression. These guidelines suggest the following:
"Once I started taking [an antidepressant], I started to feel better. I was then able to start to see a psychologist and work on the deeper rooted issues."
Everybody’s experience of medication is different. Most antidepressants take one to two weeks to start working. But you might feel some benefits sooner than this, such as improved sleep.
Speak to your doctor if you don’t feel any benefit after taking an antidepressant regularly for two to four weeks, or if you feel worse. It’s possible that a different antidepressant might suit you better.
"I was a total mess before I started my antidepressants. After a struggle through the first two weeks, I began to see the light at the end of what had been a very long tunnel."
Everyone's experience of antidepressants is different. Hear Chris, Georgia, Mark, Cathy, Rose, Jess and Liz tell their stories in these videos.
This information was published in September 2020. We will revise it in 2023.
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