If you are one of the millions of Americans struggling with depression, discussing talk therapy and prescription antidepressant medication options with your doctor is one of the first steps to controlling the condition.
Beth Salcedo, MD, medical director at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders and board member at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) highlighted the importance of effective communication with your doctor in a recent blog. She also recommended patients consider alternatives to medication, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.
The mental health expert suggested a number of questions to ask should you and your doctor or psychiatrist decide to treat depression with medication. To better understand prescription antidepressant options, she advised asking about:
- Different drug classes used to treat depression and how each differs in terms of benefits and side effects.
- Possible side effects and how they can be managed.
- Potential interactions with other medication, or interactions with alcohol and food.
- How regularly medication needs to be taken.
- What to do if you forget to take a dose.
- The process of coming off medication and any potential withdrawal symptoms.
Mitchell Mathi, MD, director of the division of psychiatry products at the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), also highlighted the potential benefits of therapy and antidepressants when treating depression. "Some evidence shows that the most effective way to treat many patients with depression is through both talk therapy and prescribed antidepressant medication," he stated.
The FDA official advised patients to discuss possible treatment courses with their doctor or psychiatrist, noting in some cases medication may not be the most effective option. He observed a "significant percentage" of people do not respond to a prescribed antidepressant, but suggested switching medication, or adding another drug, may yield better results. His comments further highlight the importance of proper communication between patients and doctors about prescribed antidepressants.
A variety of different drug classes are used to treat depression, including:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for example Prozac (fluoxetine) or Celexa (citalopram), and
- Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), for example Effexor (venlafaxine).
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): for example Tofranil (imipramine) or Elavil (amitriptyline).
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as Nardil (phenelzine).
Depression affects five percent of the American population over the age of 12, with almost one in ten adults between the ages of 40 and 59 reporting current depression, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, during which organizations across the country, including the ADAA, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America, work to improve understanding and awareness of depression and other mental health conditions.
For more information on depression, visit the links below: