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Discharge Instructions: Taking Antidepressants

Your doctor prescribed an antidepressant for you. An antidepressant helps reduce the extreme sadness, hopelessness, and lack of interest in life that are typical in people with depression. Some antidepressants also treat pain, seizure disorders, anxiety or panic disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

The name of my antidepressant is ____________________________________________.

Guidelines for Use

  • Follow the fact sheet that came with your medication. It tells you when and how to take your medication. Ask for a sheet if you didn’t get one.

  • Tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking, including over-the-counter or herbal medications.

  • Take your medication exactly as directed. This medication takes several weeks to reach its full effect. Because of this, it is important to take this medication every day, even if you believe that it is not helping your symptoms. You may need to take this medication for a few months, or for life, depending on your symptoms.

  • If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember—unless it’s almost time for your next dose. In that case, skip the dose you missed. Don’t take a double dose.

  • Don’t take this medication if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

  • Limit alcohol intake or if possible, avoid alcohol completely while taking this medication. 

  • Ask your doctor about specific dietary restrictions. Some foods interfere with the effects of antidepressants, and others may cause serious reactions.

  • Don’t stop taking your antidepressant without talking with your doctor. If you wish to stop taking it, your doctor will need to help you taper off the medication gradually.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:

  • Increased feelings of depression

  • Unusual joint or muscle pain

  • Breathing problems

  • Shaking chills

  • Excessive excitement

  • Difficulty controlling your emotions or actions

  • Skin rash

  • Hives

Possible Side Effects

Tell your doctor if you have any of these side effects. Don’t stop taking the medication until your doctor tells you to. Mild side effects include:

  • Anxiety

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • Headaches





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