Signs antidepressant is working (Easy to spot)

In this blog post, we talk about the signs that your antidepressant is working.  Some 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Most alarming of all is that with each passing day the number increases.

At the same time, the prescription of drugs to treat this disease is also increasing and it is normal for doubts to arise regarding its effectiveness and convenience. Do you want to know if antidepressants are working? There are several signs that can give you the key to know.

How to know if antidepressants are working for me?

From the time the diagnosis of depression arrives until you start to feel better, it takes a while. Antidepressants are not magic pills that as soon as you take them make your illness disappear. You have to be very patient and, in addition, you already know that only with the medication you cannot overcome it. Medication is always a compliment to psychotherapy.

Still, it’s totally normal for you to wonder if antidepressants like wellbutrin are working and we have a few ways to check it. Some things to take into consideration:

  • You may not have depression: Diagnosing depression is complicated and sometimes not entirely accurate. It can happen (in very rare cases) that you are diagnosed with depression, but you really suffer from another type of disorder that needs a different drug to cure itself. In these cases, it is best to ask for a second opinion from another professional.
  • Psychotherapy: we insist that psychological therapy is the best remedy against depression. Pay attention to antidepressants and lean heavily on it. It will cost you more time and more effort, but it will be the one that really helps you to cut the root problem and begin to see life differently. Psychotherapy helps you in getting over the depressing thoughts.

Antidepressants take time to work

Patience, take it easy. You will listen to it a thousand times throughout the process and as much as it sounds like empty words, the truth is that they are very right. Many people notice the effects of antidepressants within a few days of starting them, but they are the exception.

Typically, it takes 4-6 weeks for this type of medication to take effect or its results to be noticed. And surely you notice the side effects before its benefits. So don’t despair and wait a reasonable time before going to the doctor and asking to change your antidepressants because they don’t work.

Your body’s reaction to antidepressants

If antidepressants are doing their job, after a few weeks you will notice the effects on your body. You will feel stronger, with more energy and with a certain vitality. It will be strange after so much time of exhaustion and paralysis with depression, but you will have to take advantage of the moment.

The best way to help antidepressants work is to play sports. You don’t have to go into a competition or get pounded in the gym, but as soon as you notice that little push of extra strength, take advantage of it. Go for a walk or run almost every day or convince someone to sign up for tennis, fencing, swimming or whatever else appeals to you together.

Your mind’s reaction to antidepressants

What antidepressants do is help you regulate neurotransmitters like serotonin, noreprinefin, and dopamine, so in a few weeks, you have to start noticing changes in your mind or in your attitude towards life. We insist that it is not a magic pill, but you will notice how you progressively go from thinking that there is no way out to look for means and solutions to get ahead.

That is why in most cases of depression, whether mild, moderate or severe, it is necessary to take antidepressants. And at the same time that you notice an improvement, you have to pay less attention to the possible adverse effects.

How to help antidepressants work 

Since there are several types of antidepressants, it is evident that not all of them work the same in all people. Therefore, it is important that you do not despair, you may have to try several. And when your doctor and you come up with the right antidepressant, you know that it does not work only with medication.

To overcome a depression you have to make some extra effort that at first will seem titanic. Especially going out, going outside, not letting apathy keep you in bed or on the couch. Also, do a little physical exercise and spend as much time as you can do those things that you enjoy, that make you smile.

And do not forget that you can get out of depression without curing it, so there can be relapses. Hence the need to also receive psychological treatment, to overcome and cure this disease, to know it in detail, detect its warning signs and protect yourself in the future.

Can antidepressants stop working?

As we have already told you, the normal thing is that after a while taking antidepressants, the symptoms of depression begin to disappear. But this does not mean that, as soon as you start to notice improvement, you have to stop taking the medication. On the contrary, you should continue taking it until your doctor tells you otherwise.

What happens is that, in some specific cases, after being on antidepressants for a long time, they suddenly stop working. It is what is known as ‘exhaustion’ or ‘tolerance’ and what it means is that your body has become accustomed to them and therefore no longer reacts to their effects.

In addition, there are also other factors that can cause antidepressants to stop working:

  • Another health problem: there are other diseases that combined with depression can cause symptoms to increase, preventing the effectiveness of antidepressants. This is the case, for example, of hypothyroidism.
  •  New medication: Some medications taken to combat other types of conditions not related to depression can interfere with the effectiveness of antidepressants, reducing their effects.
  • Age: As you get older, your body changes and processes medications differently. The antidepressant you were taking two years ago may not have the same effect at this time in your life.
  •  Undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar disorder also causes changes in mood. To combat it, antidepressants are not enough, you need an antipsychotic or mood stabilizer.

How to safely stop antidepressants?

Antidepressants are effective and safe –in addition to saving lives–, but like all medications, certain guidelines must be followed both when taking it and when stopping it. In cases of depression, the most common is that people who have suffered from this disorder give up their consumption about six months after – on average – the illness has disappeared.

It may seem like a long time, but depression is not a simple cold and antidepressants are not aspirin. Perhaps this is the reason why the first advice is not to take them longer than is strictly necessary since lengthening the treatment too long can make it more difficult to stop them, and that more side effects appear.

Taking these medications longer than necessary makes it harder to stop later.

In this sense, in a report presented last year to the British Parliament it was said that 56% of people who try to get rid of antidepressants suffer withdrawal effects, and 46% of those who suffer describe them as serious. 

Stopping an antidepressant suddenly can cause anxiety, insomnia, headache, dizziness, tiredness, irritability, nausea, feelings of electric shock, and the reappearance of symptoms of depression. Reasons enough to do it properly.

56% of people who try it suffer withdrawal effects. 

Each patient has its particularities, and each drug has specific characteristics, some are more activating and others more sedative. The receptor profile is different, and therefore we must perform a de-escalation according to the type of drug and also according to the objective and subjective characteristics of the patient.

In addition, within antidepressants and anxiolytics, there are several families, so the de-escalation or suspension of the dose should always be done under the guidance of a specialized psychiatrist. Most antidepressant drugs must be withdrawn gradually, so the dose must be lowered until we reach the smallest dose of that drug that we have a presentation at the pharmacy. 

Once we are at this smaller dose point, the pill will be halved for a set period of time, and then alternate days until discontinued. If the withdrawal is done in a gradual and gradual manner, the patient does not have to notice any withdrawal symptoms. 

If the patient feels more anxious, restless, with some emotional lability or more irritable, we have to increase the dose again until this symptom disappears, and we will stay at this dose for a set time and, once the situation has stabilized, we will return to start the dose de-escalation. 


Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Conclusions

In this blog post, we talked about the signs that your antidepressant is working. 

You have to remember that it takes 4-6 weeks for this type of medication to take effect or its results to be noticed. And surely you notice the side effects before its benefits. So don’t despair and wait a reasonable time before going to the doctor and asking to change your antidepressants because they don’t work.

If antidepressants are doing their job, after a few weeks you will notice the effects on your body. You will feel stronger, with more energy and with a certain vitality. It will be strange after so much time of exhaustion and paralysis with depression, but you will have to take advantage of the moment.

What antidepressants do is help you regulate neurotransmitters like serotonin, noreprinefin, and dopamine, so in a few weeks, you have to start noticing changes in your mind or in your attitude towards life. We insist that it is not a magic pill, but you will notice how you progressively go from thinking that there is no way out to look for means and solutions to get ahead.

If you have any comments or questions on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on Signs antidepressant is working

Why does it take so long for antidepressants to work?

It takes so long for antidepressants to work because of their mechanism of affecting one’s nervous system. The drugs used to combat depression are (SSRIs), which means selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.  Generally, when you start this drug treatment, it takes several days or even weeks to take effect and this is often a cause of frustration and despair for some people. 

Is it possible for antidepressants to work right away?

No, it is nos possible for antidepressants to work right away. Most of them take between 1 to 4 weeks to start working. You have to be patient and combine the treatment with psychotherapy methods. 

Why do antidepressants make you feel worse before better?

Antidepressants make you feel worse before better because the drug’s side effects occur before your depression symptoms can improve. You have to have a lot of patience with the treatment for depression.

Further reading

The Anti-Depressant Book: A Practical Guide for Teens and Young Adults to Overcome Depression and Stay Healthy, by Jacob Towery MD 

Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope, by Johann Hari  

The Pill That Steals Lives – One Woman’s Terrifying Journey to Discover the Truth About Antidepressants, by Katinka Blackford Newman 

The Antidepressant Solution: A Step-by-Step Guide to Safely Overcoming Antidepressant Withdrawal, Dependence, and “Addiction”, by M.D. Joseph Glenmullen M.D. 

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References

psychologytoday.com – Number One Reason SSRIs Take Four to Six Weeks to Work

Sciencedaily.com – Why do antidepressants take so long to work?

Cambridge.org – Why do antidepressants take so long to work? A cognitive neuropsychological model of antidepressant drug action

Sane.org – Antidepressant medication

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