How Your Pharmacist Can Help You with Your Depression Treatment

Published: March 27, 2022
By Marissa Brooks, PharmD, MBA

Depression, also known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder, is a mood disorder commonly linked with persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable. Depression can disrupt your appetite, sleep, concentration, and can interfere with normal daily life functions. Pharmacists play a role in managing mental health disorders by reviewing your medications, providing information about prescriptions and symptoms, and assessing your health during visits to the pharmacy.

What are antidepressants?

Antidepressants are medications that can help improve mood and coping skills. They work by increasing the amounts of naturally occurring substances such as serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, which helps to regulate mood.

There are several different types of antidepressants, and your doctor or pharmacist will work with you to find the one that works best for your needs. You may have to try a few different medications or dose adjustments before you find a medication and dose that works the best for you with the fewest number of side effects and drug interactions.

Potential side effects of antidepressant medications are weight gain, sleepiness, dry mouth, insomnia, and a decreased sex drive. More severe side effects include serotonin syndrome (a potentially life-threatening condition associated with serotonin toxicity) and suicidal thoughts.

Tips for taking medications for depression:

  • An easy way to remember to take your medication is to make it a part of your daily routine.
  • Continue to take your medication even if you do not feel different. It can take 4-8 weeks to feel the full effect of the medication.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant.
  • If your mood becomes worse or you have thoughts of hurting yourself, notify your prescriber or call 911 right away.

Important safety information

It’s important to take antidepressants as prescribed by your doctor. Do not stop taking your medication without consulting your prescriber. This can worsen the side effects or symptoms of depression. If you and your doctor decide you should stop the medication, the medication may need to be tapered off slowly.

While taking antidepressants, monitor your mood and any side effects that you may experience after taking antidepressants. Antidepressants are usually recommended along with seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional.

Summary

Your pharmacist can play an important role in optimizing your antidepressant by ensuring you take it correctly. Be sure to talk to your pharmacist or prescriber about any side effects you may experience. There are many antidepressants available, and they can help you find the best medication for you. Do not stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor first, and if you have any thoughts of hurting yourself, call your doctor or 911 right away. 

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