What do I need to know before taking antidepressants?
Before taking antidepressants, you may want to know about some of the risks of taking them. All medications have risks and can affect people in different ways. But there are some common reasons to be cautious about taking antidepressants.
- if you take other drugs
- if you drink alcohol
- if you’re under 18
- if you have certain medical conditions
- if you are pregnant or breastfeeding (see our page on taking antidepressants while pregnant or breastfeeding for more information).
You can speak to your doctor or pharmacist with any questions or concerns you have about the risks of antidepressants.
If you take other drugs
You should speak to your doctor about any other drugs you take before you start taking antidepressants. This includes illegal drugs and anything you’ve bought from the pharmacy or online, such as painkillers, traditional Chinese medicine or herbal remedies.
This is because different drugs can interact with each other, which can sometimes have dangerous effects on your health. If you take more than one drug at once, the interactions can also make the side effects of each drug worse.
If you drink alcohol
You should check with your doctor or pharmacist whether it’s safe to drink alcohol with the antidepressant you’ve been prescribed.
This is mainly because alcohol interacts with most antidepressants. If you have alcohol while you are taking antidepressants, this interaction can:
- make you feel drowsier than you would from taking the medication on its own
- affect your ability to perform certain tasks, such as driving
- make you more prone to falls and confusion (this mainly affects older people).
If you’re under 18
If you are under 18, this information may help you decide whether to take antidepressants:
- Antidepressants are not clinically tested on people under 18 years old. This means there is less information available on the possible benefits and risks in patients of this age group.
- If you are under 18 and your doctor prescribes you an antidepressant, they should be very careful about the dose and take your physical measurements (including size, weight, height) into account.
If you have certain medical conditions
If you have certain long-term medical problems, your doctor may not prescribe you certain antidepressants.
You can also speak to your doctor if you are concerned about how antidepressants may affect your overall health, including any pre-existing medical conditions.