Depression and Prescription Medicines

What Is Depression?

Depression is much more than feeling sad or down for a short period of time. It is a serious condition that can interfere with all aspects of a person’s life

What Are The Symptoms of Depression?

Our assessment includes the following questions about depression symptoms: 

  1. Little interest or pleasure in doing things

  2. Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless

  3. Trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much

  4. Feeling tired or having little energy

  5. Poor appetite or overeating

  6. Feeling bad about yourself or that you’re a failure or that you’ve let yourself or your family down

  7. Trouble concentrating on things like watching television or reading

  8. Moving or speaking slowly so that others notice or restlessness and moving around a lot

These symptoms occur at least several days over the past two weeks.

How Common Is Depression?

Depression is very common. In 2020, 21 million adults in the U.S. had at least one episode of depression. That is 8.4% of all adults in the U.S. Depression is more common in women than men. And, by age group, it is most common in adults aged 18 to 25 years.

What Is The Treatment For Depression?

Depression treatment may include psychotherapy (e.g. cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT]), lifestyle changes (e.g. increasing physical activity), complementary therapies (e.g. mindfulness meditation, yoga), and/or prescription medicines.

For certain individuals, treatment may consist of more than one type. For example, a person may establish a regular exercise routine, start seeing a therapist, and begin taking antidepressant medicine.

Should I Contact My Doctor?

The answer is “Yes.” In addition to the care that you are receiving through Goodpath, you may benefit from a discussion with your doctor about prescription medications for depression. It is advised that you contact your doctor to schedule an appointment. 

If your symptoms are very severe or if you have thoughts of harming yourself, you should get help right away. 

Which Prescriptions Are Used To Treat Depression?

Before prescribing medicine to treat depression, the healthcare provider usually explains the effects of different medicines, the side effects, the costs, as well as the patient’s preferences.

The prescription medicines that are most often used to treat depression are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

Some common SSRIs are fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa), and escitalopram (Lexapro).

Some common SNRIs are venlafaxine (Effexor XR), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), and duloxetine (Cymbalta).

Another antidepressant that is often used is bupropion (Wellbutrin).

Each person responds differently to antidepressants

  • It often takes weeks to feel the full effects.

  • It may be necessary to try different antidepressants to find the one that works best,  with the fewest side effects.

  • Antidepressants may be prescribed in combination with each other to help treat depression.

Is Treatment Follow-up Needed?

It is extremely important for a person who has been prescribed and started on an antidepressant medication to follow up with their healthcare provider. Follow-up is important for monitoring response to the medication and adjusting the dose as needed. It is also important for identifying any side effects or safety issues with the medication.

Treatment for depression is divided into three phases, each with important reasons for seeing the healthcare provider.

  • The acute phase lasts at least 6 to 12 weeks. The goal is to achieve remission or to reduce or stop symptoms.

  • The continuation phase is about 4 to 9 months. The goal is to prevent symptoms from recurring.

  • The maintenance phase is a year or more. The goal is to protect against further depression

    • Your healthcare provider may suggest a plan to slowly taper antidepressant medicine, with careful monitoring for worsening symptoms. 

For More Information

National Institute of Mental Health (2022). Depression. Retrieved  7-26-2022 from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2022). For People With Mental Health Problems. Retrieved  7-26-2022 from https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/people-mental-health-problems.

U.S. National Library of Medicine (2022). Antidepressants.  7-26-2022 from https://medlineplus.gov/antidepressants.html.