Questions to Ask Before You Swallow Antidepressants

Antidepressants have become the go-to drugs of many doctors treating women—not just for depression but also for insomnia, weight loss and migraines. Yet the prescriptions may be creating more problems than they are solving. Click here to learn how to decide what’s right for you. Then, make sure you get these answers from your doctor

by Ginny Graves
pills yield sign image
Photograph: Oliver Mundy

If necessary, make a separate appointment with your doctor and get answers to the following:

Is this medication approved by the FDA to treat my condition“A drug that’s not approved isn’t necessarily ineffective, but it’s probably less well studied than approved medications,” says Caleb G. Alexander, MD, an antidepressant researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

If it’s not FDA approved, what evidence is there that it
works? “You’re entitled to know what type of proof there is that an antidepressant will help you,” says Jennifer Wider, MD, a women’s-health specialist and spokesperson for the Society of Women’s Health Research.

What are the typical side effects? “Almost all medications have them, and it’s important to know what they are so you can weigh the pros and cons of taking a particular drug,” says Wider.

How long should it take for the drug to work? Most antide-pressants kick in within a few weeks, but it makes sense to ask what to expect.

How long will I have to stay on the medi-cation? “It’s a very good idea to discuss an exit strategy with your doctor since many people don’t want to stay on medication for the rest of their lives,” Wider says.

Is the drug covered by insurance when used off-label? Coverage varies by drug and illness, so check with your doctor or insurer.

Read: Antidepressants: The Pills We Can't Kick

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First Published Wed, 2013-02-27 17:08

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