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Long term use of anti-depressants

Antidepressants aren't a quick fix. Signs of improvement are visible within two to four weeks. To restore the balance of naturally occurring, mood-regulating substances in the brain (the neurotransmitters), the treatment with antidepressants should continue up to a minimum period of 9-12 months, especially for adult individuals.

As the person gets to feel better two questions arise- how long should a person keep taking antidepressant medicines and what happens if antidepressants are used regularly ?

Research indicates that more than 50% of depression disorders can relapse or return at some stage in a person's life. Two main triggers are stress and times of physical ill health. To lessen risks, doctors recommend continuing antidepressants for at least 6 months after full recovery or till no longer symptomatically feeling depressed.

True, antidepressants alleviates depression and also improves quality of life to some degree, but what happens if used regularly? In the minds of many patients, the fear of overdependence on antidepressants looms large.

While there is ample information about side-effects of starting and abruptly discontinuing antidepressants, there is hardly any research into long-term effects of using antidepressants. So far, there have been no recognized common side effects related to long-term use of antidepressants. The cause and effect is not established.

Reviews with healthcare providers play a pivotal role to monitor health status and patients preferences about ongoing use. Patients who wish to discontinue after long-term treatment can inform their personal preference to health care provider. Doctors would prepare the patient about what to expect and extend support to cope with discontinuation effects, if any. A combination treatment of antidepressant medication and psychological therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy prior to discontinuing treatment would be recommended.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: November 26, 2020