Antidepressants are medicines recommended to help with managing depression and sometimes other conditions like anxiety. They work by adjusting the amount of chemical transmitters in our brains, because in people with depression, this is what’s thought to have changed. When first taking these tablets, it may take a few weeks to notice an improvement; the changes don’t happen instantly.
There are 3 main types of medicines:
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Melatonergic antidepressants
Why is it important to keep taking my medication
Most people start to feel better within 2 to 4 weeks of starting to take an antidepressant. It can take up to 2 months to experience the full effect. Everyone responds differently but you will most likely need to keep taking your medication for 6 to 12 months after you begin to feel better, to reduce the chances of the symptoms coming back.
Really great things you can do to help yourself
1. Wake up at a regular time
When you have depression, your sleep/wake pattern can be messed up. Getting up at the same time each morning can help get your body clock back to its normal rhythm.
Getting outdoors, preferably in the morning and go for a walk. It will give you a great feeling that you’ve achieved something for the day. Or make it social – hit the gym with a friend. Maybe you could join a local sporting or dance group. Any of these may give you the boost enough to get back into the type of exercise you usually enjoy.
3. Eat healthy meals
Getting back into regular eating patterns allows you to split up your day and restore your life’s rhythm. Remember – food can have an impact on mood, so try to eat nutritious foods, rather than the easy to grab fast-food. When we’re feeling down, it’s easy to reach for comfort food. Some of us lose interest in food – which comes from losing interest and pleasure in everyday parts of our lives.
Did you know that highly processed foods filled with salt, sugar and fat are more likely to lead to symptoms of depression? One study found that 1 in 3 people with depression had less symptoms of depression after improving their diet – by making healthy food choices. So instead of reaching for chips or icecream – try to stick with wholesome options like: fish, wholegrain bread, fruit and vegetables, yoghurt, nuts, legumes and plenty of water!
Remember, alcohol is a depressant and may work against your medication – so try to cut down.
4. Before you go to sleep
Sleep problems can be a symptom of depression, so try to not make things worse. Try going to sleep at a similar time each night. Maybe try doing something relaxing in the evening – like a bath. Stay away from screens and avoid eating rich food or drinking coffee for the hour or so before bed.
5. Stay on treatment
Even when you start to feel better, your doctor may want you to continue to take your treatment to help with your long-term recovery. Continue taking it until your doctor advises you to stop.
6. Talking about your problems early
with family members, friends, or your doctor to help prevent depression returning. There are also lots of places which provide support and information:
Beyondblue provides large number of resources and information for depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder
SANE Australia promotes the understanding of mental illness through a range of publications and services. It is not a crisis counselling service
Black Dog Institute provides a range of information on depression and bipolar disorder
Lifeline a telephone crisis support service, operating 24 hours a day. Phone 13 11 14