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Taking An Anti-Depressant? You’re Not Alone

Written by Dr. Dave Hnida CBS4 Medical EditorIf you’re popping a Prozac or Paxil everyday, you’re part of a big, and ever-growing group.

A new survey of more than 12,000 Americans over age 12 by the CDC shows about one in 10 of us takes an antidepressant.

That’s an increase of 400 percent over the last 20 years.

So does that mean we, as a nation, are more bummed out than we used to be?

Hard to say; the experts aren’t sure but suggest these drugs aren’t only being used to boost mood. Antidepressants can also be helpful to treat things such as anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and the hot flashes of menopause. But does that mean popping a pill the answer to any of these problems?

Not necessarily, especially when it comes to depression. In fact some experts are concerned that only one in three of people who take medication get therapy as well– something that can be really helpful when depression strikes.

On the other hand, some experts say that it’s good the stigma is decreasing when it comes to taking an antidepressant, and the medication can truly be helpful by itself.

In any case, here are some things to know about this class of medicine if and when if ever are prescribed something:

1. The doses are typically too low. Experts say starting on a low dose is okay, but for the best effect, it’s usually necessary to take a lot more than what you started with.

2. Most people aren’t aware of all potential side effects, including increased anxiety, fatigue, headache, or sexual dysfunction. If you start an antidepressant and something happens, or doesn’t work anymore, be sure to tell your doctor (funny to include this paragraph after saying most people don’t take a high enough dosage).

3. Sometimes these meds stop working after a while, meaning 6 months to years later. If that happens, the usual solution is simply to change to a different pill.

4. Once again, if depressed, you don’t seek therapy. It can really help. And, don’t forget things like regular exercise and low fats in the diet can boost mood as well.

5. A pill is not the answer to everything. If you have clinical depression, an antidepressant can be a lifesaver. But it wont solve all of life’s problems, no matter what the diagnosis.


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