Antidepressants help many people enjoy a higher quality of life, but these medications aren’t right for everyone.
Some people who feel depressed, lonely or otherwise unhappy may think antidepressants are the best option, but the truth is that prescription medication should be a last resort. Anyone in such a such a situation needs to do research and carefully weigh the pros and cons of prescription antidepressants.
Why Do People Use Antidepressants?
Antidepressants, like all medication, exist to treat diagnosable medical conditions. A person who starts feeling depressed or lonely shouldn’t immediately turn to prescription medications to feel better.
Ideally, only people with diagnosed medical conditions like depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should receive antidepressant prescriptions. When they receive such a prescription, it is usually only after they explore and exhaust other, less-invasive options – such as lifestyle changes to diet and exercise regimens, counseling and psychotherapy. Only a medical professional can diagnose a psychological disorder and prescribe medication to treat it.
Questions to Consider Before Obtaining a Prescription
Anyone feeling depressed, lonely or otherwise unhappy with no clear, definitive reason should reflect and think about possible causes. Sometimes, depression can develop after the loss of a loved one or traumatic experience, even if the individual feels consciously at ease about the situation.
Our experiences shape our perceptions of the world in ways we don’t always immediately notice. The true effects of a traumatic experience or loss can sometimes be hard to define.
Other people experience feelings of loneliness due to high-stress work that leaves little room for social interaction, or they have difficulty maintaining relationships or few opportunities for social interaction. These individuals often benefit from shaking up the usual routine. Pursuing hobbies and activities with people who share those same interests is a great way to make friends and expand one’s social circle.
Making it a point to reach out to loved ones for regular catching-up is a great way to combat loneliness as well. The demands of modern life often lead to neglecting these relationships, and doing work to repair them can be extremely uplifting.
Diet, Sleep and Exercise
Many people do not get the right amount of exercise and do not consume healthy diets. If you start feeling depressed or lonely but your life feels like it’s in order, take a moment to reflect on your dietary habits and exercise routine.
Lack of exercise leads to lower energy levels and diminishes feelings of fulfillment. Poor diet has negative consequences for personal health and can also make everyday life feel more challenging. Try to make better eating choices and exercise more regularly and see if that improves your mood.
Sleep is also very important for your mood. An otherwise healthy adult who goes without good sleep for one month can start displaying signs of clinical depression. Too much caffeine, high-stress jobs and other demands of daily life can prevent people from getting the bare minimum six hours each night. Make sure you allow yourself at least six hours of sleep each night and try to sleep more whenever possible. This can lead to a dramatic improvement in your overall mood.
Finally, review your alcohol consumption. Regular alcohol consumption can lead to depressive symptoms forming, so try to limit your alcohol intake or eliminate it from your diet altogether.
When to Ask About Antidepressants
If lifestyle changes don’t help improve your mood, you should see a therapist and talk about these issues. In many cases, people feeling depressed or lonely may have undiagnosed medical conditions causing these symptoms. A professional can help identify and address these issues in effective ways.
Ultimately, you should find a therapist you trust and hear what he or she has to say about your situation, including how a prescription may or may not help.
Risks of Prescription Antidepressants
Like any other medication, antidepressants carry the risk of side effects and interference with other medications. If you are taking any medications, be sure your doctor knows of them before starting a prescription for antidepressants.
Some prescribed antidepressants carry side effects that could include:
- Mood swings
- Sexual difficulties
Some users have reported suicidal thoughts after starting antidepressants. If you start taking any antidepressants and notice these side effects, contact your prescribing doctor immediately.
These effects may be temporary or the result of another drug interaction, so let your doctor know about the situation. It is unwise to simply stop taking them. Although there are no concrete risks of ceasing antidepressant medication, suddenly stopping can create adverse reactions and make unpleasant side effects worse.
Join the Discussion with Fight Addiction Now
Fight Addiction Now is a grassroots organization for people to come together and share their experiences about substance abuse and other drug-related issues in a supportive, constructive and judgment-free environment.
If you have had positive or negative experiences with antidepressants, your story may help someone else going through similar issues. Head on over to our Facebook page or to our new discussion forum to interact with people who would benefit from hearing your experiences.