Before seeing a mental health professional, patients should do a little of their own research on the condition they have.
This is especially true if they were diagnosed and referred or are close to 100 percent sure of what they have.
For example, in most cases it’s pretty easy to detect if you or someone else has depression. Some common symptoms are fatigue, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, insomnia, lack of interest and desire, and irritability.
Research should include causes, symptoms, treatment and types of medication available. This is to get a better idea of what you’re dealing with and what you think you might need. Even knowing side effects that you know you can’t deal with (like weight gain or insomnia) can help a psychiatrist have a better idea of a medication to prescribe if necessary.
Although it is best to confirm with a doctor, there are many credible sites that have basic medication information, and there are resources that explain how antidepressants work.
A spokeswoman for the American Psychiatric Association said that there really is no best depression medication because it depends on the individual.
However, there are popular antidepressants, and some types (SSRIs, MAOs, TCAs and lithium) of antidepressant medications and individual medications are associated with certain side effects (which could deter some patients and even make the medication less effective for certain individuals).
For example, lithium is considered to have more harmful side effects than other antidepressants, according to an abnormal psychology textbook. SSRIs, which include drugs like fluoxetine (brand name Prozac), are generally the “first choice in drug treatment for depression.”
Cost can be an issue for some antidepressants, but usually a generic version of the brand name becomes available within a couple years. Also, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness website, some medications are available for discounts for needy individuals.
According to www.consumersunion.org, three generic antidepressants in 2005 were found to “save consumers $1,200 a year or more” when compared to brand names.