I was prescribed an antidepressant but I don’t think it’s working. What can I do?

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Ask Us is for readers who want to take charge of their well-being, support a friend or loved one, find good help, or just learn more about mental health and substance use. Here, the information and resource experts at HeretoHelp will answer the questions that we’re asked most often. We`ll offer tips and information, and we`ll connect you with help in BC, Canada. If you have a question you’d like to ask, email us at askus@heretohelp.bc.ca, tweet @heretohelpbc, or log in to HeretoHelp and post a comment on this page.

If you’re concerned about your medications, it’s important to talk with the doctor or psychiatrist who prescribed your medications. While it can take a few weeks to really see improvements with many antidepressants, it’s still a good idea to talk to your doctor about what to expect.

Talk to the doctor that prescribed your medication if you experience symptoms or side effects that are distressing you. If you want to talk to a trusted professional about the most common side effects, call your pharmacist. You can reach a pharmacist by phone after-hours by calling 811.

It’s also best not to stop taking the medication or changing the dose on your own without first talking to a health care provider. While it might be tempting to stop taking your medication when you start feel better, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions.

In some cases, people can have an allergic reaction to a medication. Some reactions are not serious, like a rash. In these cases, you can call the pharmacist or call 811 to reach help after-hours. If you have a serious reaction like difficult breathing, dizziness, or confusion, call 911 right away.

When you start a new medication, your pharmacist will give you a printout with information like side effects, signs of an allergic reaction, how long it might take to work, and other information. It’s good information to keep on hand, but it isn’t always easy to read. When you pick up your medication, you can ask the pharmacist to go over the information with you so you understand what you should look for.

If a particular antidepressant or psychiatric medication just isn’t working for you, there are many different options! Unfortunately, finding the right medication can take some trial and error. Different people can have very different experiences with the same medication, and often you need to try something to see if it works (or doesn’t work) for you. This can be a frustrating process, especially when you want to start feeling better, but it’s important to keep trying and work with your doctor so you understand your options. Many people feel intimidated talking to health professionals, but it’s important to share information so you both understand what’s going on and can make good, informed decisions about your health care. Some people also feel embarrassed talking about symptoms or side effects like changes in sex drive or digestion, but its important information for your doctor (and they know that changes in sex drive or digestion are common concerns). You can find strategies, including a mood journal, to help you work with doctors and other health care providers at www.heretohelp.bc.ca/factsheet/working-with-your-doctor-for-mental-illnesses.

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