If you are depressed, what should you to do treat how you feel? Most people look for a “quick fix” and seek out to get prescribe an antidepressant as a relative “knee-jerk” reaction to how they feel. Although antidepressants are clinically effective medications for treating depression, they do not work for everyone. Many antidepressants also produce unwanted sexual side effects such as sexual dysfunction and weight gain.
Before trying antidepressants, it is generally recommended to pursue natural cures for depression such as exercise, cognitive-behavioral therapy, dietary changes, and other lifestyle changes. Assuming you’ve worked hard to overcome your depression and nothing seems to work, the next step usually involves going to get a prescription for an antidepressant drug.
How To Get Prescribed Antidepressants
In order to get a prescription for any pharmaceutical drug, you must book an appointment with a licensed medical doctor and discuss your problems. Your doctor will then come up with some medication options to try and if necessary, write up an antidepressant prescription.
1. Appointment with Medical Doctor
The first step involves setting up an appointment with either a doctor or psychiatrist. Most people who have major depression prefer working with a psychiatrist as opposed to a general practitioner. Although a general practitioner can prescribe antidepressants with good intentions, they lack the specific knowledge that a psychiatrist should have about antidepressants.
- Psychiatrist: Recommended
- General practitioner: Not recommended
If you are unable to get into a psychiatrist, you can certainly seek the help of a general practitioner. The only major difference between the two is that a psychiatrist may have a better understanding of your specific depressive subtype as well as other comorbid diagnoses. Therefore a competent psychiatrist will understand what medication will best suit your specific situation.
2. Discussing Depression: Symptoms & Causes
After you’ve booked an appointment with your general practitioner or psychiatrist, they will usually have you describe your depression. Most good doctors will make note of the specifics regarding your depression such as whether you have comorbid anxiety, whether you sleep too much vs. too little, eat too much vs. too little, and understand your energy levels.
- What are your specific symptoms? A doctor (especially a psychiatrist) will want to get a good understanding of your depressive symptoms. Understanding specific symptoms will help the doctor understand if there could be any other medical cause for these depressive symptoms.
- What caused your depression? Most cases a doctor will ask what caused your depression. If there is a specific cause, it will likely need to be addressed. For example, if you recently broke up with a boyfriend or girlfriend and that is leading you to become depressed, you likely aren’t an ideal candidate for an antidepressant. Scenarios such as breakups would be better addressed in therapy.
- How long have you been depressed? If you have been depressed for as long as you can remember, then you may have clinical depression. If you only recently started feeling depressed, a doctor may recommend alternative treatment options. Usually you must have depressive symptoms that interfere with your life for weeks before an antidepressant will be prescribed.
- Have you pursued natural treatments? A doctor may recommend considering natural treatment such as exercising daily and getting in for some therapy. If you have already tried natural options and/or don’t want to try them, tell your doctor that they don’t help enough.
3. Antidepressant Drugs
A general practitioner may tell you that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, even though this theory is outdated. They may continue to say that depression is caused by low serotonin and will likely prescribe one of the most common antidepressants. A psychiatrist will likely give you a more thorough explanation of medication options such as: SSRI, SNRI, and atypical antidepressants.
- Medications: You will likely be given a choice between several antidepressants if you visit a psychiatrist. A doctor may not give you any say about what they prescribe and may just throw a popular medication at you. A psychiatrist will usually explain why they selected a certain medication to try.
- Side effects: You will want to voice any concerns you may have over potential antidepressant side effects. If you think that gaining weight and/or sexual dysfunction would significantly interfere with your life, make sure the drug you try isn’t associated with those.
- Instructions: Your doctor will then tell you how to take your medication. Certain drugs may need to be taken in the morning or at night, and others may need to be taken with food for maximum benefit.
- Consider therapy: In addition to writing out a prescription, a doctor will usually recommend seeking help from a licensed psychologist or therapist for CBT. Therapy is regarded as being just as effective as pharmaceutical medications for depression.
Finally you will have a prescription for your antidepressant medication phoned to a local pharmacy. Assuming you have health insurance, a majority of the cost should be picked up by your insurance company. If you lack health insurance, you will likely need to pay in full for your prescription, which could be expensive depending on the medication.
If you lack insurance, you may want to tell your doctor to prescribe a generic version of the drug. Most generics are the exact same formula of the drug and will be equal in efficacy to the original. Additionally a generic version will be considerably cheaper than the “brand name” drug. A 30 day prescription for a generic antidepressant may only cost you $5.
- Pharmacy pick-up: It will then be up to you to go to the pharmacy to pick up your drug.
- Pay for the prescription: Once you pay for your prescription, you will be able to take your antidepressant.
- Follow doctor’s instructions: Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for taking your medication and never take more than your prescribed dose.
It’s very easy to get antidepressants prescribed
These days, it’s almost too easy to get antidepressants. Many people go to their doctor, complain about depression, and the doctor will be quick to write up a prescription without even attempting to first encourage natural treatments. Although people with major depression usually need antidepressants to get through the day, many people getting prescriptions for antidepressants never needed them in the first place.
You may view antidepressants as an easy solution to your “depression” problem, but they are not really an effective long-term treatment strategy. They may work well over the short term (i.e. months) to help you get through a difficult time in life (assuming they actually work for you). For many people they can actually make the existing depression worse or just make the person feel emotionally “numb.” They may also cause a chemical imbalance, making it difficult to distinguish your initial depression from neurotransmitter alterations from long-term antidepressant use.
Before you rush to your doctor to get prescribed antidepressants, take a good honest look at your situation and ask yourself whether you really need them. If you don’t really need them, you may need to experiment with lifestyle changes, finding new friends, and alternative therapies to overcome your depression. However, if you have tried everything else and have no hope for your current situation, antidepressants can be an effective option.