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Can antidepressants become less effective over time?

Published on October 21, 2015 at 14:42 / Updated on March 3, 2020 at 19:52

Can antidepressant lose their effectiveness after a few months or a few years of use? Certain data lead us to believe that they do. It would in fact seem that in approximately one individual out of five, antidepressants stop being effective after a certain period of time, without physicians being able to understand why. However, in the majority of cases, it is possible to identify the cause responsible for a decrease in the medication’s efficacy.

Some individuals are likely to experience a relapse, or an aggravation of their symptoms of depression. Depression is a chronic disease that may recur. In other cases, depression can worsen without any apparent reason, but it can also be triggered by continuous stress. For other individuals, depression may aggravate with age, giving the impression that the medication is no longer effective.

In addition, various medications can sometimes interfere with the way the system metabolizes the antidepressants, which can decrease their effectiveness. This is why it is very important that a pharmacist judiciously evaluates drug interactions each and every time a new medication is added to a patient’s profile.

It could also be that certain individuals were originally misdiagnosed. What was thought to have been a depression in the beginning could actually reveal itself to be bipolar disorder in which depression is prevalent. As treatments differ noticeably from one disorder to the other, it is important for a physician to be able to establish the correct diagnosis.

Finally, underlying medical conditions (such as hypothyroidism or other health problems) can sometimes induce depressive symptoms. This is why it is so important to get a thorough medical evaluation.

The good news is that there are solutions. Modifying the dose, changing the medication, or adding a supplementary antidepressant, usually make it possible to recover satisfactory effectiveness. Psychotherapy may also prove useful. If you have any questions or concerns, speak with your pharmacist. This health professional is always available to help you!

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