Depression Articles

Antidepressant Medications - Side Effects

Side Effects of Antidepressant Medications

Antidepressants may cause mild side effects that usually do not last long. Any unusual reactions or side effects should be reported to a doctor immediately.

The most common side effects associated with SSRIs and SNRIs include:

  • Headache, which usually goes away within a few days
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), which usually goes away within a few days
  • Sleeplessness or drowsiness, which may happen during the first few weeks but then goes away
  • Sometimes the medication dose needs to be reduced or the time of day it is taken needs to be adjusted to help lessen these side effects
  • Agitation (feeling jittery)
  • Sexual problems, which can affect both men and women and may include reduced sex drive, and problems having and enjoying sex.

Tricyclic antidepressants can cause side effects, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Bladder problems. It may be hard to empty the bladder, or the urine stream may not be as strong as usual. Older men with enlarged prostate conditions may be more affected
  • Sexual problems, which can affect both men and women and may include reduced sex drive, and problems having and enjoying sex.
  • Blurred vision, which usually goes away quickly
  • Drowsiness. Usually, antidepressants that make you drowsy are taken at bedtime

MAIO antidepressants require other precautions:

  • People taking MAOIs need to be careful about the foods they eat and the medicines they take. Foods and medicines that contain high levels of a chemical called tyramine are dangerous for people taking MAOIs. Tyramine is found in some cheeses, wines, and pickles. The chemical is also in some medications, including decongestants and over-the-counter cold medicine.
  • Mixing MAOIs and tyramine can cause a sharp increase in blood pressure, which can lead to stroke. People taking MAOIs should ask their doctors for a complete list of foods, medicines, and other substances to avoid. An MAOI skin patch has recently been developed and may help reduce some of these risks. A doctor can help a person figure out if a patch or a pill will work for him or her.

Precautions to be Observed When Taking Antidepressants

When taking antidepressants, it is important to tell all your doctors (and dentists) about all medications being used, including over-the-counter preparations and alcohol. Antidepressants should be taken only in the amount prescribed and should be kept in a secure place away from children. When used with proper care, following the doctor's instructions, antidepressants are useful medications that can control many of the physical symptoms of depression, while you work on changing the life stressors that contributed to its cause.