Using antidepressants safely and properly is important. It prevents unnecessary (extra) side effects and prevents unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when quitting.
Guidelines for properly using antidepressants
Antidepressants, just like antipsychotics, are best taken in the following ways:
- Always take your medication at the same time of day. If your antidepressants make you sleepy, it is best to take them in the evening.
- Everyone can forget to take their medication sometimes, but try to keep this to a minimum. If you miss a dose, you can still take it up to eight hours before your next dose.
- Stick to the prescribed dosage. Always consult your therapist first before changing your dosage.
- Request a repeat prescription with your doctor in time, so you do not run out of medicine.
- Be careful with drugs and alcohol in combination with antidepressants. It is particularly dangerous to use stimulants such as MDMA (ecstasy, molly or “E”), cocaine and amphetamines (“speed”).
- NEVER stop taking your medication all of a sudden. Suddenly stopping or reducing your intake too quickly, can cause unnecessary side effects and make your depressive problems worse. Your body needs time to properly adjust to the reduction of your medicine.
Do antidepressants affect other medicines?
Using antidepressants can affect other medicines, and vice versa. Therefore it is very important to tell your doctor / therapist about all the other medication you are taking. This includes homeopathic / alternative medicine and supplements.
The following medicines are known to be a bad combination with antidepressants:
- Illegal drugs, especially stimulants (‘uppers’) such as amphetamines (“speed”), cocaine and MDMA (ecstasy, molly or “E”);
- St John’s wort;
- Certain antipsychotics;
- 5-HTTP: an over-the-counter dietary supplement
Always tell your doctor or pharmacist that you are using antidepressants whenever you get new medicines or other treatment.
Can you drive when using antidepressants?
Some antidepressants can affect your ability to drive. They can make you feel sleepy or dizzy, which can slow down your reaction time. These side effects are most common when you have just started using antidepressants or right after increasing your dosage. Especially then you should be careful about driving. Never get behind the wheel when you are feeling drowsy, sleepy or dizzy. Talk to your doctor if these side effects persist.
More information on specific antidepressants can be found at Medlineplus.gov (in English and Spanish).