How do I use antidepressants safely?

When used properly, antidepressant medications can be very effective and safe. Take these actions to ensure your safety.

  • Call for medical help immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms: chest pain, headache, stiff neck, sweating, nausea, or vomiting. You may be having life-threatening severe high blood pressure or a hypertensive reaction.
  • Call for medical help immediately if you experience rapid heartbeat, dilated pupils, flushed face, or agitation. These are signs of antidepressant overdose or potential severe reaction. Your symptoms can quickly progress to confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures, irregular heartbeats, respiratory collapse, coma, or death.
  • Always tell your doctor and your pharmacist about your use of all over-the-counter medicines, all medications containing alcohol, all herbal medicines, vitamins, and other supplements, and any recreational drugs, including alcohol and marijuana.
  • Take only the amount of the medication prescribed. Taking too much can be harmful.
  • Don't share medications. Never give your medications to someone else or take their medications.
  • Let your doctor know how your medication is working and if you're experiencing any side effects.
  • Don't stop taking medication on your own without talking with your doctor. It's important not to stop taking antidepressant medications too soon, even if you feel better. Abruptly stopping some types of antidepressants can cause problems such as insomnia and nausea, and your symptoms may return. Always talk with your doctor before you stop taking medication.
  • Since there can be dangerous drug interactions between antidepressant medications, make sure you follow your doctor's instructions about stopping one medication 2 to 5 weeks before starting another.
  • Keep your medications in the original containers. Never mix medications in the same container.
  • Keep a list of all the medications you take in your wallet or purse.
  • Take your medications and a copy of your prescriptions with you when you travel.
  • Keep antidepressants and other medications in a safe place away from children.

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