Anti-depressants are the most commonly prescribed medications for treating mental health problems. Anti-depressants are not often prescribed as a first step in the treatment of depression unless; other steps have been tried such as self help, exercise, social support but haven’t helped; your illness is associated with a physical illness, or you have had depression before. These medicines can take at least 3-4 weeks to have an impact and are usually used alongside other treatments to help you recover.
Your GP will monitor your progress and refer you for more specialist help if your mood and well-being fail to improve.
There are many people who are fearful of taking an antidepressant because they believe that they are addictive. This may be because of something they have read in the papers or something a friend has told them. However - antidepressants are not addictive. In order for something to be classed as addictive there must be:
craving for the next dose
a need to increase the dosage in order to get the same effect
physical/psychological dependence, and
a withdrawal reaction if the drug is stopped abruptly.
Antidepressants do not cause craving and the body does not become tolerant to them.
However (and this is where people get confused), they can have a withdrawal reaction if they are stopped suddenly in someone who has been taking them for more than a few weeks.
Find out more:
Royal College of Psychiatry Antidepressants Factsheet
There are a series of factsheets on the Mind website which tell you more about anti-depressants and other medications such as tranquilisers, anti-psychotics, sleeping pills and medications for ADHD. The factsheets are listed by drug name to help you find what you need. Click here to find out more.
The Choice and Medication website offers information about mental health problems, treatments, medications and their side effects.