Most of the patients suffering from depression discontinue their medications (antidepressants) and do not take them long enough to get the maximum benefit. Usually the duration of treatment for depression is long and ranges from 6 – 9 months. Because depression has a tendency to relapse (reappear) it is essential to continue treatment for the given time frame.
Studies have shown that those patients who visit their doctors infrequently (i.e. less than 3 times) after starting antidepressants tend to stop medications more often either due to the development of side effects or because they did not understand the treatment clearly, or from fear of getting dependent on the antidepressants. Hence, to overcome these problems patients should be encouraged to make frequent visits to the doctor and discuss their concerns.
Moreover, it is important to know that antidepressants are very effective in treating depression, however, they take some time to produce effect (at least 3-6 weeks). It improves all facets of depression- ranging from sadness, loss of appetite, sleep, sexual desire, social interaction, lack of energy, tendency to harm self etc. Also, antidepressants do not cause any dependence and can be stopped without any problem even after long-term use.
The tolerability of antidepressants due to side effects may vary from person to person and antidepressant to antidepressant. Most of the side effects disappear gradually with time. In case the side effects are not tolerated, one should contact a doctor. He/she can then suggest a treatment for such side effects or advise a new drug that is free of that partcular side effect.