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When it Comes to Antidepressants, Education is Key

Posted by Smarter Nutrition on

Depression can feel crippling, and many who suffer from it take medication to help them cope. But a recent poll revealed that many people who take antidepressants aren’t fully aware of the cautions and warnings associated with their prescriptions. That is an alarming discovery! With one in six Americans currently taking antidepressant medications, knowing the side effects is an important and necessary part of weighing the risks and the benefits of these medications. Not all antidepressants are beneficial, and many of them can act very differently in each body.

Unfortunately, the natural steps and options you can take to help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety are not promoted as heavily as the prescription options. With that being said, there are times where antidepressant medications certainly serve a purpose and are necessary, possibly even life-saving. If you are taking antidepressant medications, and are wondering if some of the symptoms you are experiencing are from your medication, then keep reading to learn more. We will also review some time-tested natural options to consider as well.

7 Common Antidepressant Side Effects

#1 Digestive Issues: One of the most common antidepressant medication side effects is upset stomach and other digestive issues. Many people experience nausea, but some may experience diarrhea as well. Since anxiety and depression alone can lead to digestive upset, it’s important to be aware that your medication may make those symptoms worse.

#2 Suicidal Thoughts: One of the scariest side effects of antidepressant medications is suicidal thoughts. This may seem counterintuitive since you would think that antidepressants would help you feel better mentally, not worse. But have you ever noticed that most antidepressant medication TV commercials mention this among the first side effects?

At one point, the risk of this potential side effect was so high that in 2004 the FDA issued a black-box warning on antidepressants. This black-box warning was for those who were 18 or younger, but in 2007, the age was increased to 24. However, keep in mind that this does not mean that this side effect can’t happen to anyone at any age. If you experience this symptom then get help immediately.

#3 Sexual Dysfunction: Sexual dysfunction is a very commonly reported side effect of taking antidepressants. Sexual dysfunction was found to be present in 25.8-80% of those taking antidepressants in a meta-analysis looking at sexual dysfunction related to antidepressant use. If you are experiencing low libido while taking an antidepressant, it may be worth looking further into it to see if your medication is causing your symptoms.

#4 Weight Gain: Another bothersome side effect of some antidepressants is weight gain. Many people who take antidepressants notice that they have a difficult time shedding excess weight. Some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs may be less likely to cause weight gain than others, so it is important to speak with your health care provider about your options.

#5 Sleepiness: Some who take antidepressants find it much more difficult to get out of bed, even after a full night’s sleep. This is because some antidepressants can lead to fatigue and make you feel constantly tired.  

#6 Feeling Jittery: Another common side effect is feeling on edge and jittery. You may even feel more anxious and may find yourself more irritable than usual.

#7 Headaches: A constant headache is another frequently reported side effect of antidepressant use. This side effect can certainly get in the way of the quality of your life, and not something that anyone wants to experience on a regular basis.

There are countless antidepressant medications available today, and they all come with their own individual side effects, so it is important to speak with your doctor about the risks and the benefits before deciding on the right antidepressant for you. 

Keep in mind that it’s up to you and your healthcare professional to decide if antidepressants are what you need. In many cases they have been shown to be extremely helpful on the road back to mental health and wellness. However, understanding the different types of medications and the side effects and risks that they each come with is extremely important as well.

Antidepressants are not the only tool at your disposal for improving mental health. In addition to medication options, here are some natural steps and options you can consider as well. Here are just a few of them.

Natural Mood Support Options

#1 General Wellness Supplements: there are some supplements that can help improve your overall wellness that often translate to improved feelings of well-being. Probiotics, vitamin D3 and curcumin can all be beneficial.

#2 Exercise: Exercise is a fantastic way to release natural endorphins to help you feel better both mentally and physically. Bonus points if you can do your exercise outside and soak up some vitamin D at the same time!

#3 Focus on a Healthy Diet: Focus on eating nutrient-dense foods to help stabilize blood sugar levels, which is an important part of balancing mood and hormone levels. Try eliminating inflammatory foods like dairy, gluten, and sugar from your diet. Include healthy fats like avocados, coconut, nuts, seeds, and plenty of complex carbs like quinoa, and oats. Clean protein from fish and lean organic meats is another great option to add to your diet.

#4 Be Social: Staying in the house all day and avoiding human interaction may feel like the best option sometimes, but in some cases it can actually contribute to mood issues. We are made for community. Strive to get out and attend a social event  or visit with a friend at least once a week, and engage in conversations daily. It will greatly improve your mental health.

#5 Try Acupuncture: Many people swear by acupuncture as a method to reduce anxiety and depression. It’s non-invasive and purported to be a very relaxing way to calm the body. It’s certainly worth trying!

If you are suffering from depression, don’t go at it alone. Talk with a therapist, lean on friends, family, and church support, and know you have options. However, if you are experiencing unwanted side effects of antidepressant medication, know that you may have other options as well. Speak with your doctor about alternative options, and try implementing a few these natural mood-boosting tips, or click here for even more ways to improve your mental and emotional wellbeing. A little self-care goes a long way in taking care of your mental health.


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1 comment


  • A great article – setting out the side effects of anti depressant medication whilst providing natural alternatives. I like the fact that the suggestion is made to complement the medication using natural methods rather than making it an either/or.

    Jeannette on

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