Discusses dealing with side effects of antidepressants. Links to more info on medicines, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants. Explains reasons to take medicine. Includes a warning to watch for serious side effects.
Depression: Dealing With Medicine Side Effects
Side effects are a common problem for
people who take antidepressants. If you are bothered by side effects, reading
this information can help you learn more about how to cope with them.
Most side effects are temporary and will go
away after you take the medicine for a few weeks.
Some side effects
may not go away, but usually there are ways you can learn to manage these
If the side effects bother you, your doctor may be able
to lower your dose or change your medicine.
Do not suddenly quit
taking your medicine. That could cause withdrawal symptoms or a return of your
Be aware of possible serious side effects of
antidepressants, such as chest pain or a serious allergic reaction, and call
your doctor right away if you notice any.
Common side effects
Try these tips to help you manage some of the common side effects of
Eat bran and other whole-grain cereals
and high-fiber fruits and vegetables, such as apples, prunes, beans, and
Drink plenty of fluids.
This problem usually goes away as your
body adjusts to the medicine.
Ask your doctor if you can take your
medicine at bedtime.
Do not drive or operate heavy equipment when
you feel drowsy.
Eat mild, low-fiber foods, such as
applesauce, rice, and yogurt.
Avoid spicy and high-fat foods until
you feel better.
Get up slowly from sitting or lying down.
Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless
Take frequent sips of water throughout the day.
These usually will go away as your body
adjusts to the medicine.
Ask your doctor what medicine you can
take for a headache.
Loss of appetite
Try to eat more often. Have healthy
snacks between meals.
Include favorite foods at each meal.
Take a walk before you eat. This may make you more hungry.
Eat several smaller meals a day rather
than two or three large meals.
Try peppermint candy or gum.
Peppermint can help settle your stomach.
Feeling nervous or on edge
This will probably go away soon.
If it lasts, ask your doctor if you can reduce your dose.
Ask your doctor if you can take a lower
Ask your doctor if there is another medicine you can try.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
Don't exercise in the late afternoon or evening.
your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool, and use a sleep mask and
If these problems don't go away over time, ask your
doctor about reducing your dose.
Change the time of day you take your medicine to the
Serious side effects
Serious side effects don't happen often, but you
should be aware of them. Call your doctor right away if
you or anyone who takes antidepressants has:
Warning signs of suicide, such as talking or writing about death, giving away
belongings, or withdrawing from family and friends.
Manic behavior, such as having very high energy, sleeping less than normal,
being impulsive, or being grouchy or restless.
Be sure your doctor knows about any other
health problems you have and whether you are allergic to any drugs. This can
affect what medicine your doctor prescribes for you.
doctor about any medicines you take regularly, including
over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbs. This can
help you avoid harmful drug interactions.
Do not take any other
medicines without talking to your doctor first. Even common medicines such as
aspirin and some vitamins and herbs can cause problems if you use them while
you are taking antidepressants.
Do not drink alcohol or use
illegal drugs. They can make side effects worse.
Other Works Consulted
National Institute of Mental Health (2010, reprinted 2012). Mental Health Medications (NIH Publication No. 12-3929). Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Mental Health. Available online: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/mental-health-medications/index.shtml.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.