By Jean Morgan
Antidepressants are a wonderful answer to people who have major depression. New drugs have been developed that are safer and more effective. But even with the newer medications, you will probably experience some side effects when starting to take them. There are a few things that you can do to lessen the effects of the medication until your body can become adjusted.
Nausea is one of the most common side effects and the most common reason why people stop taking antidepressants. The following tips can help you lesson the nausea:
• Drink plenty of fluids such as unsweetened fruit juice, cool water or ginger ale that has lost it’s carbonation. Do not drink ice water or hot beverages for nausea. Hot or cold liquids slow down the digestion system and may cause the nausea to last longer.
• Take your antidepressant with food.
• Try taking it with an anti acid or bismuth such as Pepto-Bismol.
• If available take a slow release form of the medication.
• Talk with your doctor about a dosage change if the nausea persists.
Increased appetite and weight gain are common side effects. You may gain weight because of lack of physical activity, increased appetite or fluid retention. These tips can help you kept the weight gain under control.
• Eat healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables.
• Cut back on sweets and fast foods.
• Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Exercise can release endorphins which is a natural mood enhancer.
• Seek the advice of a nutritionist or dietician.
• Talk to your doctor about switching medication.
Fatigue and drowsiness are common, especially during the beginning phase until your body gets adjusted. Follow these tips to lessen the drowsiness.
• Take a brief nap during the day.
• Get some mild exercise during the day.
• Avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until the drowsiness passes.
• Take the medication one to two hours before bedtime.
Dry mouth can also be a side effect of antidepressants. Some antidepressants block the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which disrupts the functioning of the digestive tract and reduces saliva secretions. Here are a few things you can do to help with this:
• Sip water regularly or suck on ice chips
• Chew sugar less gum or suck on sugarless hard candy.
• Breathe through your nose and not your mouth.
• Brush your teeth twice a day.
• Avoid mouthwash with an alcohol base. This can dry your mucus membranes out even more.
• Talk to your doctor about saliva substitutes.
Constipation is also associated with antidepressants because they block the action of the acetylcholine which in turn slows down the digestive tract. Strategies to cope with constipation are:
• Drink six to eight glasses of water a day.
• Eat high fiber foods such as vegetables and fruits, brans and whole grains.
• Get regular exercise.
• Take fiber supplements or stool softeners if other methods do not work.
These side effects of antidepressant may be bothersome. But many only last a few weeks and then diminish or disappear altogether. Side effects are the most common reason why people stop taking their antidepressant. Talk to your doctor about any side effect you may be experiencing. Never stop taking your antidepressant without your doctor’s guidance. If you stop abruptly, you may experience withdrawal like health symptoms. Just be patient, implement the above tips and you will feel better in no time!
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