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Pros & Cons for Medicating Depression

By Sandi Stritch ; Updated August 14, 2017

If you suffer from depression, you may wonder whether you should take medication or not. Antidepressant medications, while generally safe, can have some unpleasant side effects. Though they can dramatically improve your mood, they may affect your life in other ways. For this reason, it's wise to consider the pros and cons of antidepressant medications before beginning a medication regime.

Pros of Antidepressant Medication

For depression sufferers, antidepressants offer many benefits. After the drugs reach the correct level in the body, patients often experience improved mood, improved levels of functioning and a reduction in the number of physical symptoms--such as fatigue and pain--that they experience.

Taking antidepressants helps to balance neurochemistry and allows the mood centers in the brain to function optimally. For best results, it's necessary to take the correct dosage of antidepressants on a daily basis.

Cons of Antidepressant Medication

Unfortunately, many antidepressant medications have unpleasant side effects--such as weight gain, sexual side effects, sedation or an increase in suicidal thoughts. For this reason, it's advisable to consult your doctor about potential side effects when choosing an antidepressant. She'll be able to help you decide which medications offer the best possible results with the fewest potential side effects.

Some antidepressant side effects are relatively harmless, including weight gain and mild fatigue. Others, like sexual side effects, can dramatically affect your life. If you find that you can't tolerate the side effects a medication produces, your doctor can help you make dosage adjustments or switch to a new medication.

Some antidepressants have been linked to an increase in suicidal thoughts. If you have recently started an antidepressant or switched medications, stay alert for an increase in this type of thinking. If you feel that you are a danger to yourself or others, seek emergency assistance immediately.

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Considerations

When choosing or changing a medication, remember that each person has a unique reaction to medication. For this reason, you should monitor any changes you experience carefully and report disturbing side effects to your doctor.

Antidepressant medication may take several weeks to fully take effect, so side effects may not be noticeable immediately. Pay careful attention to the way you feel for the first four to six weeks after beginning a medication regime.

For best results, take the prescribed dosage of your antidepressant medication around the same time each day. Antidepressants work best when the level of medication in the body is kept at steady levels.

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