Recognizing Side Effects

Recognizing Prescription Antidepressant Drug Side-Effects


Antidepressant prescription drug side-effects often appear to be worsening of depression, leading to overprescribing of medication or the adding of multiple medications.  Antidepressant prescription side-effects are unique, may be subtle, and are relieved when the medication is withdrawn.  They should be carefully watched for early in prescription drug treatment as they are known to have emerged in as few as 1 to 2 days after beginning medications.  Special Note: Antidepressant medications should never be stopped unless under the care of a licensed medical doctor.  Serious events and loss of life have occurred on withdrawal from antidepressant medications.

  1. Akathisia. An internal severe agitation, irritability, anxiety and restlessness.  For some persons, but not all, pacing and an inability to sit or stand still are seen.  The person may appear “hopped up” as if on street drugs.  It is reported to occur in as many as 30% of patients taking prescription medications.  This adverse reaction is known to have led to suicide and violence in young persons and adults.
  2. Blunting of emotions. The person begins not to care about things, such as relationships, school, job, family, in which he or she was previously interested.
  3. Loss of normal inhibitions. The person may engage in high risk activities and may lose their natural human resistance to engaging in acts of aggression and hostility, spousal abuse or injury to animals.
  4. New or deepening suicidal thinking or behavior. The person may think about, plan, or carry out a suicide—an action entirely uncharacteristic of him or her and most often not disclosed to or suspected by parents or friends.
  5. Psychosis or delirium. The person may become psychotic, his thinking may be disordered and he may lose touch with reality.
  6. Any new symptom that was not present before prescription medication treatment began.