Specifically, weight gain seems to be a common long-term risk, especially the medications that affect serotonin levels. This could be because serotonin is associated with an increase in appetite. There is also a risk of higher blood sugar levels and diabetes with taking antidepressants long-term.
Can antidepressants cause permanent changes to the brain? Antidepressants can cause changes in neurotransmitter levels and brain function; however, these changes are typically reversible once the medication is stopped.
It's usually recommended that a course of antidepressants continues for at least 6 months after you feel better, to prevent your condition recurring when you stop. Some people with recurrent illness are advised to carry on taking medicine indefinitely.
If you've only been taking the med for a few weeks, you may be able to reduce it in about a month. Someone coming off antidepressants after 10 years, or a higher dose, might have to gradually reduce their dose for several months.
However, discontinuation symptoms are more likely with antidepressants that stay in your body for a shorter period of time, especially those that affect both serotonin and norepinephrine, such as duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor).
Ultimately, these withdrawal symptoms will improve with time, but they can be unpleasant for days and possibly even weeks. In time, the brain readjusts and people should experience a return to their normal state.
Usually, you don't need to take antidepressants for more than 6 to 12 months. While they can make you feel better, you can get withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them. Some people will get no symptoms when reducing or stopping an antidepressant – but many do.
Antidepressants can cause dizziness and unsteadiness, increasing the risk of falls and bone fractures, especially in older people. Interactions with other medications can increase this risk. A very small number of people have had heart problems, epileptic fits or liver damage while taking antidepressants.
You are feeling better, and you and the doctor agree that it is time to stop. You have been taking the medicine for at least 6 months after you feel better. You are having counselling to help you cope with problems and help change how you think and feel. You are not worried about the depression coming back.
Tranquilizers, antidepressants, some blood pressure drugs, and other medications can affect memory, usually by causing sedation or confusion. That can make it difficult to pay close attention to new things. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you suspect that a new medication is taking the edge off your memory.
Guidance from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence recommends that antidepressants are used as 'maintenance' treatment for up to 2 years to prevent their depression returning (relapse). It also recommends cognitive-behavioural therapy to change habits of thought and behaviour.
They found that those taking antidepressants were 33% more likely to die during the study time frame and 14% more likely to have a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event. People who already had cardiovascular disease, however, were at no higher risk if they took an antidepressant. What is this?
It's common for a medication that once worked wonders to become ineffective, especially if you've been taking it for a long time. Symptoms return for up to 33% of people using antidepressants — it's called breakthrough depression.
Avoid driving or operating machinery. Avoid caffeine, tobacco and alcohol. Drink plenty of fluids. Take your antidepressant at bedtime if your doctor approves.
Most antidepressants boost mood and reduce depression symptoms by elevating serotonin levels in the brain. Although this is beneficial for someone who's depressed, for someone who does not have depression, taking antidepressant medication can cause serotonin to build up in the body, resulting in serotonin syndrome.
Clinicians usually recommend that people continue taking antidepressants for about six months after they begin feeling better. Although it is tempting to stop taking the medication as soon as you feel better, abruptly stopping will greatly increase your risk of relapse.
Benefits of natural remedies
When experiencing withdrawal symptoms or antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, increasing physical exercise or changing the diet to include more fresh food may help ease symptoms by making a person feel reinvigorated and less lethargic.
What is emotional blunting? “Emotional blunting” is a term used to describe having a limited or muted emotional response to events. This could be different from the reaction that you'd typically expect. With this symptom, you may also have difficulty accessing the full range of emotions that you're used to.
Discontinuation symptoms can include anxiety and depression. Since these may be the reason you were prescribed antidepressants in the first place, their reappearance may suggest that you're having a relapse and need ongoing treatment.
The most effective antidepressant compared to placebo was the tricyclic antidepressant amitriptyline, which increased the chances of treatment response more than two-fold (odds ratio [OR] 2.13, 95% credible interval [CrI] 1.89 to 2.41).