Q&A Should I Take an Antidepressant?

Q: I went to the doctor and was prescribed medication for depression. I’m not sure whether I want to take it. Do you have any advice?

A: Most research shows psychotherapy and medication together are equally effective in treating depression so it’s important to be educated about what treatment is best for you. There are many important things to consider when deciding on treatment.

  • What kind of depression is it? It’s important to get the right diagnosis. If someone with bipolar disorder is diagnosed with depression and given an antidepressant alone, like Prozac or Paxil, it can induce a manic state, which can be very dangerous. I often suggest my clients make an appointment with a psychiatrist, rather than their general practitioner, because they are more skilled at diagnosis.
  • If you are speaking with a mental health professional or a doctor, consider their job. Psychologists, therapists and counselors were trained in talk therapy and that’s what they do best. Most of the time, therapy is their preferred treatment. On the other hand, general practitioners and psychiatrists were trained to provide medication, so that’s what they generally use first.
  • What are the side effects of the medication? Speak with your psychiatrist about how the medication might affect you. Stay educated about your treatment and always contact your provider with any concerns and if you think a change in dose is necessary. Never stop taking medication or change doses without consulting your doctor.
  • What are your feelings about medication? How do you feel about taking medication for other problems? What would it mean to you to be on psychiatric medication? Where did you get your ideas from (e.g. family, media)?
  • Are you in immediate danger to yourself or others? If you are in danger of hurting yourself or others, seek help immediately from any doctor or health professional.

Many people talk to their friends who may or may not be on psychiatric medication and may hear horror stories or success stories. Remember, medication affects everyone differently, so your friend’s reaction to medication may be completely different than your own. Your doctor or mental health professional will have the best information. This decision is yours; think about what’s best for you in your journey.

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