12 Surprising Facts About Antidepressants You Need to Know

Sep 28, 2023 By Madison Evans

Antidepressants are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the United States, but despite their prevalence, many people don’t understand how they work. While these medications can often provide relief to those struggling with major depression or other mental health conditions, it’s essential to know and consider certain facts about antidepressants before starting to take them. From potential side effects to affordable medication options and long-term considerations – such as whether or not a diagnosis of “treatment resistant depression” exists, there is much more you should be aware of than just the basics when it comes to taking antidepressant medication. Here are 12 surprising facts about antidepressants that everyone needs to know before beginning treatment.

1. Antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States

According to data from 2018, more than 18 million adults in America were taking antidepressant drugs. That's 1 out of every 8 people! Although many types of antidepressants exist, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most popular type and account for nearly 80% of all antidepressant prescriptions.

2. Antidepressants are not just for treating depression

Although they are most commonly prescribed to treat depression, antidepressants can also be used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic pain syndromes. Studies have even suggested that some types of antidepressants may have beneficial effects beyond the treatment of mental health conditions.

3. Antidepressants can take several weeks to start working

It can often take several weeks before a person begins to feel the full effect of an antidepressant, so patience is key when taking this type of medication. Some people may experience initial side effects like nausea or headaches, which usually subside after a few days or weeks.

4. Antidepressants can cause physical side effects

While most people don't experience any serious physical side effects from taking antidepressants, it's important to be aware of the potential risks. Common side effects include weight gain, insomnia, dry mouth, and sexual dysfunction. If you experience any of these symptoms while taking an antidepressant, speak to your doctor.

5. Antidepressants can interact with other medications

Certain types of antidepressants may interact with other medications that you are taking, which can increase the risk of side effects or reduce the effectiveness of either medication. Before starting an antidepressant, it's essential to discuss any other medications you are taking with your doctor so they can help avoid any potential drug interactions.

6. There are natural alternatives to taking antidepressants

While medications can be an effective way to treat depression or anxiety, some people may prefer natural alternatives like exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet. Other complementary therapies that may help include yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

7. Antidepressants may cause withdrawal symptoms

If you stop taking an antidepressant suddenly, you may experience a range of withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, and depression. To avoid these effects, it's important to speak to your doctor before discontinuing any medication.

8. Not everyone responds to antidepressants the same way

Due to biological and genetic differences, some people may have a better response to one type of antidepressant than another. If you don't notice any improvement in your symptoms after taking an antidepressant for several weeks, it's important to speak to your doctor about trying a different medication.

9. Antidepressants may increase the risk of suicide

Although antidepressants are generally considered safe, there is some evidence suggesting that they may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors in certain people. It's important to discuss any changes in mood or behavior with your doctor as soon as possible if you are taking an antidepressant.

10. Antidepressants may help reduce the symptoms of ADHD

Recent studies have shown that certain types of antidepressants may be effective in reducing the symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in both children and adults. If you think your child may be suffering from ADHD, it's important to speak to a doctor and explore all treatment options.

11. Antidepressants can help people with bipolar disorder manage their symptoms

Antidepressants are commonly used to treat the depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder. Studies have found that certain types of antidepressants can help reduce the frequency and intensity of depressive episodes. As with any medication, it's important to discuss any potential side effects with your doctor before starting treatment.

12. Combining therapy and medication may be more effective than taking antidepressants alone

Studies have found that combining antidepressant medication with psychotherapy can be more effective in treating depression than just taking medications alone. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that has been shown to be especially helpful in managing the symptoms of depression. Your doctor can provide more information about the available treatment options.


While antidepressants have come a long way since they were first discovered, it is important to remember that they are still only one part of the treatment plan for mental health conditions. People should speak with their doctor about any potential side effects and possible medication interactions before starting an antidepressant regimen. And while it can take time to find the right medications or combination of medications that works best for you, it’s important to remember that there is hope and help available for people struggling with a mental health condition.

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