The consequences of inadequately treated depression are significant. The correct use of antidepressant medication is an important part of treatment. Patients diagnosed with depression need to be monitored closely during the first three to six months of treatment to adjust dosage or type of medication.
Below are some tips for effective antidepressant medication management1 that you should share with your patients.
- Manage expectations by telling your patients:
- It may take time for them to start feeling better. Most antidepressant medications take one to six weeks to work.
- They may see improvements in their sleep and appetite before they notice improvements in their mood, energy and negative thinking.
- Promote medication adherence by:
- Encouraging patients to keep taking the antidepressant medication for at least six months.
- Explaining the connection between taking the medication and the signs and symptoms of improvement.
- Offering strategies to help them take their medications each day.
- Telling them the common side effects associated with the medication, how long they will last and what to do to manage them.
- Let them know what to do if they:
- Are having thoughts that they want to harm themselves.
- Have questions or concerns about their medications.
Here are some ways to improve the effectiveness of antidepressant medication management:
- Recognize high co-morbidity of depression with physical illnesses.
- Follow patients closely — with weekly contacts for the first month of treatment — and monitor side effects.
- Call to follow up with patients who don’t show for appointments.
- Realize that improvement takes four to eight weeks of treatment at adequate doses.
- Re-evaluate after two to four weeks if you don’t see signs of improvement.
1Source: Molina Healthcare. HEDIS® Tips: Antidepressant Medication Management (AMM). 9 March 2020. https://www.molinahealthcare.com/providers/sc/duals/ PDF/AMM_Antidepressant%20Med%20Management.pdf (last accessed 20 July 2020).