How Long Do You Need to Take Depression Pills?

Antidepressants are often used long-term to reduce the risk of relapse. However, most patients do not fully understand how long they should take antidepressants and why they should take them even after their symptoms have subsided. The information in the article will help patients answer questions, thereby gaining more experience in the treatment process.

How long should antidepressants be taken? Answers

Medication is the mainstay of treatment for depression and some common mental disorders. The drugs used can regulate the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, thereby altering emotional, thinking and behavioral disorders. Although many new methods have been developed, medication still plays the most important role in controlling and preventing recurrence.

There are many medications used to treat depression, with antidepressants being the most common. Depending on the specific health condition and response ability of each patient, the doctor may prescribe the following drugs:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) include Fluvoxamine, Paroxetine, Fluoxetine, etc.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants such as Amitriptylinoxide, Amitriptylin, Nortriptyline, …
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) include Venlafaxine, Duloxetine, Desvenlafaxine, etc.

In addition to antidepressants, your doctor may also prescribe anxiolytics (sedatives) and antipsychotics. However, these drugs are only used short-term to improve symptoms of depression. Meanwhile, antidepressants help regulate neurotransmitter levels in the brain, which has implications for disease management and prevention.

How long should I take antidepressants?
How long to take antidepressants is a concern of many patients

Quite a lot of patients wonder “How long should I take antidepressants?”. Because using the drug has many potential risks and side effects. According to Psychiatrists, antidepressants need to be used for a long time, at least 1 year and the treatment period can be prolonged in case of severe depression, or relapse.

Treatment for depression consists of two phases, attack and maintenance. The attack phase will last from 6 to 12 weeks. At this point, the drug will be used in high doses and sometimes in combination with many other drugs to control symptoms quickly. The maintenance phase will last from 16 to 20 weeks or longer depending on the case.

Antidepressants will start to work after 4-6 weeks of use, and most patients experience complete relief of symptoms after about 2-3 months. However, voluntary discontinuation of the drug is the main cause of depression recurrence and increased risk of treatment resistance. Statistics show that patients who stop taking the drug before 6 months will have a 25% recurrence rate in the first year.

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In summary, the duration of antidepressant medication will depend on the severity of the illness and the individual patient’s ability to respond. However, the feature of antidepressants is that they must be used for a long time (at least 1 year) and can only be stopped when prescribed by a doctor.

Patients need to avoid fear of side effects leading to discontinuation of the drug earlier than the indicated time. Because voluntary discontinuation of the drug can cause more serious consequences. Therefore, patients should strictly follow the doctor’s instructions on the time, dose and type of treatment.

Why do depressed patients have to take long-term medication?

Depression is an emotional disorder characterized by low mood. People with this disease are always melancholy, sad, pessimistic, lose interest and reduce interest in everything around.

At present, the pathogenesis and etiology are still unknown. However, experts found that the disease is related to genetics, traumatic events in life, etc. These factors cause the concentration of neurotransmitters in the brain to be disturbed (specifically). decreased serotonin at the synaptic cleft) leading to depressive symptoms.

Taking antidepressants has the effect of increasing the concentration of serotonin and other neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, dopamine, etc. When the concentration of these neurotransmitters increases, the depressed mood in depressed patients will markedly reduced.

After about 10-15 days of use, patients will notice that their body reduces fatigue, improves mood, has an appetite and sleeps better. However, if the drug is stopped early, the neurotransmitter levels will return to the original state. Therefore, patients with depression must take long-term medication even when their symptoms are completely relieved.

How long should I take antidepressants?
Antidepressants need to be taken long-term to stabilize levels of neurotransmitters in the brain

Long-term use of the drug stabilizes neurotransmitter levels and reduces the risk of disease recurrence. Patients who take the medicine at the prescribed time can successfully manage and control the disease in a short time.

Meanwhile, those who stop taking the drug too soon will miss the “golden time” leading to relapse and poorer response ability. Even many patients have no response to drugs at all and are forced to intervene with brain stimulation methods such as electric shock to treat depression, transcranial magnetic stimulation, etc. These cases will take a long time to treat. treatment and costs more than patients taking full medication as directed by the doctor.

In addition, arbitrarily stopping the drug too soon will also cause depression to recur again and again. In case the disease recurs 5 times or more, the patient will have to take the drug for life. Therefore, the use of antidepressants must be done carefully to bring about the best effect.

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How to limit the time you take antidepressants?

Antidepressants need to be taken long-term to stabilize neurotransmitters in the brain. However, because of long-term use, patients have to face many side effects such as nausea, agitation, headache, dry mouth, decreased libido, etc. Therefore, many people voluntarily stop taking the drug. disease recurrence and poor response to treatment.

The duration of antidepressant use will depend on the severity of the disease and the progress of the individual patient. To limit the use of drugs for a long time, patients can do some of the following measures:

1. Use the right medicine

Using the drug early and on the right course is the best way to reduce the time it takes to take the drug. Because the cases detected early often have a good response, the disease is in remission quickly and the neurotransmitter levels will quickly return to normal. These cases usually require only 1 year of medication and the recurrence rate is low.

Meanwhile, patients who voluntarily stop taking the drug will often face a high risk of relapse (25% in the first year). At this time, the use of the drug will not bring the same good results as the original. Even some cases encountered treatment-resistant depression and required intervention with brain stimulation methods.

2. Combined with psychotherapy

Chemotherapy is the mainstay of treatment for depression and other emotional disorders. However, this therapy also has some limitations such as potential side effects and poor response in some cases. Therefore, drug use is often combined with psychotherapy to provide the best results.

Psychotherapy is carried out by means of communication between the client and the specialist. Experts will assess the mental health status of each client to find the right approach. The goal of psychotherapy is to help patients release emotions, learn balance, and find joy and hope in life.

How long should I take antidepressants?
Patients need to combine medication with psychotherapy to shorten treatment time

This method also helps depressed patients improve self-esteem, reduce pessimism, melancholy and sadness. During psychotherapy, the specialist will equip the patient with the necessary skills to be able to relieve stress – a factor that aggravates the disease and increases the rate of depression recurrence. The specialist will also teach the patient how to build a healthy lifestyle, improve communication and problem-solving skills in life.

Combining medication and psychotherapy is highly effective in treating depression. Compared with medication alone, patients combined with psychotherapy often have a better response, positive disease progression and fewer recurrences. Therefore, the time to take the drug will also be significantly shortened compared to the case of only treatment with pharmacotherapy.

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3. Implement self-improvement measures

Depression is a type of mental disorder that has a chronic, persistent progression. Because the etiology has many unknown points, the current treatment methods still have many limitations. Therefore, patients should incorporate some additional self-improvement measures:

How long should I take antidepressants?
Self-improvement measures at home can reduce medication side effects and help shorten treatment time
  • Build a reasonable diet and lifestyle to improve health. A healthy lifestyle also helps to reduce the physical symptoms of depression and improve the side effects of antidepressants.
  • Exercise is a natural remedy for mental and physical health. When exercising, the brain will produce neurotransmitters that help repel negative emotions and bring a sense of comfort and elation. Depression patients often have poor health, so priority should be given to subjects of gentle intensity such as yoga, swimming, walking, cycling, etc.
  • Do not smoke, use alcohol and use drugs. These habits have been shown to increase anxiety and stress levels and cause many physical health problems.
  • Limit the habit of withdrawing and thinking too much. Instead, you should meet friends, chat with people around to find excitement and joy in life.
  • You can take daily relaxation measures to improve your mood, such as meditation, massage, warm baths, using essential oils in the room, using herbal teas, etc.

If medical treatment is combined with self-improvement measures, depression usually goes well and goes into remission quickly. As a result, the duration of use of antidepressants will also be shortened and patients will have less need to use accompanying drugs such as tranquilizers, antipsychotics, beta blockers.

Hopefully through the above article, the patient has clearly understood “How long should I take antidepressants?” and be aware of why it is important to take the medicine exactly as prescribed by the doctor. In addition, patients should also take other measures to optimize the effectiveness of treatment and limit the need for prolonged drug use.

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