What To Do If Your Antidepressant Medication Doesn’t Work Well

Reader’s Question

What supplementary medicine can I take in order to relieve me of depression? I have being using Faverin (Luvox) for 8 months now.

Psychologist’s Reply

If you are prescribed an antidepressant medication and after several months you have no significant change in your symptoms or overall depression, several issues may be present:

  1. The most common problem is using an antidepressant medication at a low dose. In the US, 80% of antidepressant medications are prescribed by nonpsychiatrists — typically family MDs and OB/GYN physicians. It’s not uncommon for the medication to be prescribed at a “starter dose” but not increased. Taking a low dose of an antidepressant will provide some relief but it’s a slow process. In this case, talk to your prescribing physician about increasing the dosage.
  2. We all have a unique body system. Thirty-five percent (35%) of folks receiving an antidepressant are required to switch to another medication over the course of treatment. If your current medication isn’t working, ask to be considered for a different antidepressant.
  3. One problem with poor response is poor cooperation in following the prescription. Many people view antidepressant and antianxiety medications as “nerve pills” and take them only when upset or distressed. Antidepressant medications are designed to be taken every day as prescribed — not as needed. Taking your antidepressant for three days, skipping two days, etc. will have little or no effect on your depression.
  4. Psychiatrists often use combinations of medications. If a single antidepressant doesn’t work well, ask your physician or psychiatrist about additional medications that are an option.

In all cases, consultation with your prescribing physician is very important. DO NOT add herbal or “natural” medications to your prescribed course of treatment as serious side effects can develop. Always talk to your doctor.

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