Last Updated on June 3, 2023
If you have looked carefully in the warning labels on the antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, you were likely startled to see that ideas of suicide, a depression danger, can also be a risk of the very drug designed to treat it. Is this headline-capturing side effect uncommon or common? And what about sexual unwanted effects along with other possibilities that are unpleasant?
“Panic of unwanted side effects shouldn’t prevent a patient from getting treatment for depression,” stresses psychiatrist Susan G. Kornstein, MD, a professor of psychiatry and obstetrics/gynecology and executive director of the Institute for Women’s Health at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. “Untreated depression causes far more distress and impairment in function, as well as the threat of suicide.” Many researchers also believe that untreated depression, even if it subsides, leaves you vulnerable to some relapse considerably sooner than you could experience with SSRI treatment.
SSRIs are the most frequently prescribed antidepressants, and a drug that is effective, but their unwanted side effects can’t be disregarded. Nonetheless, taking steps to manage side effects can prevent you on your medication and provide you with the very best chance at healing.
Unwanted side Effects of SSRIs
SSRIs’ side effects look just like a laundry list of unpleasant possibilities, but keep in mind that not all of the negative effects are not unusual. They comprise:
- Dry mouth
- Sexual dysfunction, like delayed orgasm or lack of interest in sex
- Weight gain
“The most typical SSRI side effects are nausea, insomnia, somnolence, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction,” says Dr. Kornstein. “It’s very important to note the incidence of certain side effects isn’t the same for all SSRIs. For instance, weight gain is a lot more common with paroxetine than with other SSRIs. And a specified patient may experience a specific complication on a single SSRI and never on another.”
Most symptoms appear within the initial two weeks in many individuals. It is crucial that you notice should you abruptly quit taking antidepressants you could experience negative side effects.
Certainly among the most critical and troubling side effects is even suicidal tendencies in some people and the possibility for increased depression symptoms, notably in kids and adolescents being treated for depression. Nonetheless, it is often difficult to understand whether this is a complication of medicine or caused by the seriousness of the depression. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration review found one study suggesting that about 4 percent of young adults taking SSRIs had suicidal thoughts or efforts, twice the amount of those not on an SSRI, while other studies showed no increase whatsoever in suicidal behaviour.
Develop a Side Effect Management Strategy
Here’s that which you could do to fight SSRI side effects:
Call your physician. “Patients should call their physician when the side effects are particularly distressing or when they significantly interfere with their day to day functioning,” proposes Kornstein. Certain unwanted side effects, including continuing nausea or thoughts of suicide, are apparent justifications to call your doctor for assistance, but any side effect, even one that appears rather private (such as not having the ability to orgasm as fast as usual), is worth bringing up together with your healthcare team.
Be patient. “There are transient negative effects such as nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, and sedation that will appear in the very first week or two and then resolve,” says Kornstein. Along with your doctor’s guidance, you may need to just stick with your treatment plan for a while longer and try some practical techniques for surviving in the interim,.
Adjust drug dose. Your physician may want to change your dosage or the kind of drug you are taking in case your side effects are troubling. Don’t try to alter drug or your dose on your own.
Change the time of doses. Simple changes, for example taking medicine after meals to counter belly difficulties or before bed if sleepiness is a problem, could be all you have to do to minimize negative effects.
Embrace a strategy for every single side effect. Talk together with your physician for specific notions that’ll benefit you, but here are a few methods to still common side effects:
- Nausea. Eat small meals more frequently or suck on hard candies. Staying hydrated can additionally help.
- Weight gain. Attempt to be physically active (national recommendations are for at least 30 minutes of activity most days of the week) and eat a calorie-controlled diet. Work using a dietitian if you are not certain whether your diet is nutritious as this can help you remain on track with your weight goals.
- Sexual unwanted effects. Men might take advantage of drugs that fight erectile dysfunction, while girls can use lubricants or alternative tools to make sex more comfortable. Side effects such as sexual dysfunction are temporary but can be distressing. Creative approaches to sexual affair can help you stay connected with your partner while you continue antidepressant treatment and enjoy yourself. Consider sex therapy as a method to get some new thoughts for sex.
- Sleeplessness. Taking an additional antidepressant before bedtime or a sedative may assist you to sleep better, as can cutting back on caffeine and getting more exercise throughout the day.
- Dry mouth. Remain hydrated and attempt chewing gum. Additionally you should get regular dental checkups to ensure your mouth is healthy — your dentist could possess various other thoughts for fighting with dry mouth distress.
- Stress. Try relaxation techniques and more exercise, or consider switching to a different drug.
- Increased depression or thoughts of suicide. Do not attempt to cope with these all on your own. Let your doctor know if your depression or thoughts of suicide become more regular or worsen once you start treatment. Teenagers and children taking SSRIs should be watched carefully for signs of suicidal thinking.
- Dizziness. Some folks, particularly older adults, can experience changes in blood pressure as a consequence of those medications. Take time getting up from a lying or sitting position and avoid driving or using heavy equipment in case you are coping with dizziness.
Increase your physical activity. Exercise is able to help you manage weight gain, anxiety, gastrointestinal effects, and changes in sleep patterns that may result from SSRIs.
Get counseling for depression. Regardless of the unwanted effects which may be troubling you, most people taking antidepressants additionally reap the benefits of treatment to aid them contend with all the challenges in their lives and recover from depression.
The most important thing to consider is the fact that you should never quit taking your medication without your physician’s supervision. Stopping abruptly can cause other negative side effects — get your physician’s guidance about cutting down or switching to another medication.