Depression: How to cope with the side effects of antidepressants

Almost all antidepressants have certain side effects. If you are taking antidepressants and are suffering from side effects, then this article will help you cope with them.

Key points

  • In most cases, the side effects are temporary and disappear a couple of weeks after starting the medication.
  • Some of the side effects do not go away, but you can always learn how to deal with them.
  • If you cannot cope with the side effects, the doctor may reduce the dose of the medication taken or change it.
  • Do not stop taking antidepressants suddenly. This may cause worsening of symptoms or a second bout of depression
  • You should know all the serious side effects, such as chest pain or a severe allergic reaction, and contact your doctor immediately if they appear.

What side effects can antidepressants cause?

The side effects of each antidepressant are different, but the most common ones are:

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Sexual problems (loss of desire or erection disorder)
  • Headaches
  • Difficult to sleep or frequent waking in the middle of the night
  • Feeling nervous or irritable
  • Drowsiness throughout the day

Most of the side effects are temporary and will go away with the first weeks of taking the medicine. However, some of them (for example, dry mouth, constipation, and sexual problems) may bother you for a longer time. If you have questions about your medication, consult your doctor.

Different antidepressants cause different side effects. Examine them in leaflets for such antidepressants:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, for example, Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil.
  • Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants, for example, Elavil, Pamelor, Maprotiline.
  • Atypical antidepressants, such as Wellbutrin, Effexor and Remeron.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, for example, Nardil, Marplan and Parnat.

Why is it necessary to continue taking antidepressants if they cause side effects?

Most antidepressants cause minor side effects that often disappear in the first weeks of taking the medicine. If you continue to take antidepressants, you will soon feel relief from the symptoms of depression, and side effects will eventually pass. Some patients believe that a positive result from antidepressants is worth it to suffer minor discomfort caused by side effects.

If the side effects continue to bother you, consult your doctor. You may just need to change the dose or type of antidepressant.

If you are going to change the medicine, then in no case should you suddenly stop taking the current antidepressant. This may cause worsening of symptoms or a second bout of depression. Switch to another antidepressant only under the strict guidance of your doctor. You will need to gradually reduce the dose before starting a new drug.

How to cope with side effects?

Learn how to alleviate the side effects of medications:


  • Try to eat bran and flakes, and whole grains, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, such as apples, prunes, beans, and broccoli.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.

Daytime sleepiness

  • This problem will pass when your body adapts to the drug.
  • Ask your doctor about the possibility of taking medicine before going to bed.
  • Do not drive if you feel sleepy.


  • Eat light, low-fiber foods such as applesauce, rice, and yogurt.
  • Avoid spicy and fatty foods until you feel relieved.


  • Try to get out of bed or chair slowly.

Dry mouth

  • Always have unsweetened bubble gum or candy.
  • Always carry some water with you to take a few sips.


  • This problem will pass when your body adapts to the drug.
  • Ask your doctor what pain medication you can take.

Loss of appetite

  • Try to eat a little, but often. Always carry snacks with you to eat between meals.
  • Eat your favorite foods with every meal.
  • Go for a walk before eating. It will help to feel hunger.


  • Eat more often, but in small portions throughout the day, rather than two or three times a day, but in large portions.
  • Carry mints or chewing gum. Mint will help calm your stomach.

Feeling nervous or irritable

  • This problem will disappear soon.
  • If these feelings continue, then talk to your doctor about the possibility of reducing the dose of the drug.

Sexual problems

  • Talk with your doctor about the possibility of reducing the dose of medication.
  • Ask your doctor about the possibility of changing the medicine.

Sleep disorder

  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
  • Do not exercise in the afternoon, especially in the evening.
  • Keep the bedroom quiet, calm and cool. Use a night mask or ear plugs.

Watch out for more serious side effects

Although serious side effects are very rare, you still need to know how they occur. Contact your doctor immediately if you or your loved ones have the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain.
  • Allergic rash, difficulty breathing, difficulty in swallowing, lip tremors or other allergic symptoms.
  • Signs of suicidal behavior, such as talking about death, handing out personal belongings, or alienation from relatives or friends.
  • Manic behavior, for example, excessive activity, inadequate sleep, impulsiveness, grumbling and restlessness.

Precautionary measures

  • Be sure to tell your doctor about any other diseases or allergies to medications. This may affect the choice of antidepressant.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor about all the medicines you take on a regular basis, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins or herbs. This will help avoid complications from drug interactions.
  • Do not take other medicines without first consulting with your doctor. Even simple aspirin or herbal tinctures can cause complications if taken with antidepressants.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. They can increase side effects.

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