First, let’s all agree that occasional bouts of depression or feelings of sadness are normal. Negative emotions such as these are important indicators that our life circumstances are not in alignment with who we are or want we want out of life. Or we could be struggling to overcome a loss or trauma. So what do you do when you just can’t seem to get unstuck?

It is our ability to cope that determines on how long we will remain in a depressed state. Some people are able to overcome these feelings in a few days but for many people, this depressed state of mind can carry on for months and even years!

Perhaps that is why antidepressants are the third most common drug being taken by Americans; the majority of whom are women. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 23 percent of women between the ages of 40 – 59 take an antidepressant and that women are 2.5 times more likely to take antidepressant medication than men.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise since we know that women tend to be the primary caretakers, if not the only caretaker. Then there’s the added responsibility of working outside the home, managing the family’s health care, and putting the toilet seat down. So it’s not a huge leap from being overwhelmed to being depressed.

That’s why doctors are so quick to scrawl out a prescription for antidepressants. They are under pressure from pharmaceutical companies to prescribe these drugs and there are tons of people who are seeking relief. Now usually, I try to talk my clients out of taking antidepressants because one can easily become dependent.

I also think that it’s safer and more effective in the long run to develop internal coping skills. But I also know that depression can easily take over an individual’s life, to the point that they can’t see a way out. It’s like being in a deep, dark, ditch where you can’t even see the rope dangling above your head.

 What to Consider Before Taking an Anti-depressant

If you are seriously considering taking an anti-depressant or just recently started a prescription, there are some important facts you need to know. While doctors are quick to write a prescription, they’re not always good about educating a patient on the risks and safety concerns. So I put together a list of the 7 most important things you need to know about taking an antidepressant.

 

  1. Most medications are given orally, meaning by mouth. Drugs break down in the stomach where a partial amount of the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream. The remaining portion of the drug goes to the liver or kidneys. The more medications you take, the more taxing it is for your liver and kidneys to metabolize the drugs.
  2. Antidepressants can pass through the placenta and place a fetus at risk of birth defects, especially in the first trimester.
  3. When the drug breaks down, these particles are referred to as metabolites. Metabolites are excreted in feces, urine, saliva, tears, and breast milk. If you take an antidepressant while breastfeeding, you are exposing your infant to traces of the drug.
  4. The way your body breaks down and absorbs the drug is influenced or impaired by the food you eat or periods of illness.
  5. Changes in your blood pressure can have a direct effect on levels of the drug in your blood.
  6. These drugs can be influenced or may not work properly if you are taking other over-the-counter medication, vitamins, or herbal remedies.
  7. Older adults may metabolize and excrete drugs more slowly therefore they may be at a greater risk of side effects.
For a comprehensive list of mental health medications and their side effects, visit the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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