Should I Expect My Antidepressant and Current Dosage to Work Forever?
How long do you have to stay on antidepressant medications and what if your antidepressant doesn't work anymore?
Gold Standard for Treating Depression (part 11)
Your body often changes, especially as you get older. Because of this, it's possible that an antidepressant that has worked well in the past will not be as effective in the future. If you see signs that your depression symptoms are returning or that you are experiencing new side effects, you will need to talk with your medications healthcare professional and explain the situation.
How Long Will I Have to Stay on Antidepressant Medications?
Studies show that people who remain on depression medications long-term, instead of stopping and starting the medications when needed, have a better treatment outcome. (1. Stahl, 2000) This can be difficult when you start to feel better and just want to 'get off all of these drugs' and give your body a rest.
As with any medication -- this is a balancing act. You may wonder if you really don't need the medications anymore and yet the reason you feel better is that the medications are working. On the other hand, going off may be a good idea if your depression has ended. It often depends on whether your depression was caused by a life event or has been chronic for many years. This is a decision you can make with your medications professional or a trained psychologist. Once again, it cannot be stressed enough that the more you work on your treatment options along with medications, the better chance you have of managing the depression on your own with less medications.
When asked what he felt were the most important parts of any medication treatment plan for depression, Dr. John Rush of the Star*D research project told HealthyPlace.com they are:
- Careful diagnosis
- Diligent regular assessment of symptoms and side effects
- Timely adjustment of medication doses
- Changes in medications if current treatment does not work well enough by 10-12 weeks.
"The most important component is patience and a strong collaboration between clinician and patient," says Dr. Rush. All current treatment guidelines recommend that once the depression symptoms are alleviated, a person should continue to take medications for at least six months before discontinuing. For people who have had recurrent or chronic depression with four or more episodes, the recommendation is to stay on medications for depression.
Fast, J. (2009, January 1). Should I Expect My Antidepressant and Current Dosage to Work Forever?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, November 29 from https://www.healthyplace.com/depression/depression-treatment/should-i-expect-my-antidepressant-and-current-dosage-to-work-forever-gsd