Antidepressants: Be Up Front With Those Using Them

Here are the key points that should be communicated to antidepressant users:

  • If it’s their first trip around the block with an antidepressant, they should be involved in the initial selection process. They should be informed about what to expect therapeutically and what side effects they are likely to encounter. This is empowering and contributes to the user feeling as though they have “skin in the game” when it comes to what they’ll be taking. Empowered decision making fuels compliance.
  • There is no right way or wrong way when it comes to antidepressant selection. No one antidepressant or antidepressant class consistently outperforms another.
  • It is unrealistic and unreasonable to expect that an antidepressant will do the heavy lifting when it comes to getting better. Such a belief shifts the burden of responsibility away from the user and onto a pill. No pill has that kind of power – pills can only ease the path to recovery.
  • Setting up reasonable expectations for antidepressant use is a must. Users must understand that the drug will not change behavior, and that only they can accomplish that.
  • Finding the right antidepressant “fit” can be tedious. Users shouldn’t embark upon this alone; they should enlist the aid of trusted family, friends and colleagues for encouragement, if needed. Nothing trumps a strong support system when we feel like we’re paddling upstream.
  • Giving up is not an option. The path to recovery can seem like an obstacle course – which can be interpreted as part of the overall strengthening process.


Joseph Wegmann, R.Ph., LCSW is a licensed clinical pharmacist and a clinical social worker with more than thirty years of experience in the field of psychopharmacology. His diverse professional background in psychopharmacology and counseling affords him a unique perspective on medication management issues. In addition to consulting with numerous psychiatric facilities, he has presented psychopharmacology seminars to thousands of clinicians in 46 states.

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