Medications arranged in little boxes

Anti-Depressant Medications

What are anti-depressant medications?

Antidepressant medications are sometimes prescribed by your doctor for depression. When we are depressed, chemicals in our brain don’t seem to work as well. Antidepressant medications can help to change the levels of these chemicals and in some people this can improve their mood. Antidepressant medications are also prescribed for other problems including anxiety, eating problems, pain and migraines. Talk to your doctor if you are not sure why you have been prescribed antidepressant medication.


There are many different types of antidepressant medications. Two common types are tricyclics and SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors). Overall different types of antidepressant medications work no better than each other. However, different types might suit you better.

Should I take anti-depressant medications?

If you are feeling low, antidepressant medications are just one way that might help you feel better. Sometimes they might only be part of your treatment. Although antidepressant medications can help with the symptoms of depression, they will not solve the cause. However, they can help us to feel a bit better which can give us enough strength to tackle the root of our depression in other ways. Other ways to help tackle depression can be found here. At the end of the day it is your choice. Talk to your GP about whether they think antidepressant medications could help you.

Coming off antidepressant medications

If you are on antidepressant medication it is really important to discuss with your doctor before stopping or reducing them.

When to come off

When we start to feel better it is natural to want to stop taking the antidepressant medication. In most cases however, antidepressants should be taken for at least six months after we start to feel well. If you feel that your antidepressant medications aren’t working for you, talk to your GP. They might suggest a different dose or a different type of antidepressant.

How to come off

With your GP, come up with a plan on how best to stop. This will probably involve reducing your dose gradually over a few weeks or months. How long this will take depends on things like the type of antidepressant medication or how long you have been taking them for. You might get some side-effects when coming off antidepressant medications. If you are reducing gradually these shouldn’t last for too long, but if you are worried talk to your GP.

Remember to keep up with the other ways you have been tackling low mood such as eating well or exercising.

More information on antidepressant medications and coming off them can be found at the Glasgow steps links on the right.

Self-help documents