How to Switch From One SSRI to Another

In decades past, clinical depression often went undiagnosed because of the social stigmas attached to the disorder.(Reference 4) Doctors and scientists, along with the general population, now understand depression as a bio-physical condition that can in fact be treated with medication. SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are a class of anti-depressants that work by stopping the re-absorption of serotonin by certain nerve cells in the brain, which leaves more of the hormone available for the brain to use. Because the effects or SSRI's can vary from one individual to another, you may find it necessary to speak to your doctor about switching your SSRI if it does not seem to be working for you or if you are experiencing unpleasant side effects.

Things You'll Need

  • Clinical diagnosis
  • Prescription
  • Physician supervision
  • Follow-up appointments with your physician

Instructions

    • 1
      See your doctor.
      See your doctor.

      Set up an appointment with your doctor. Discuss any adverse side effects you have experienced with your current SSRI, such as nausea, dry mouth, or dizziness. Some SSRI's are more commonly associated with specific side effects than others; your doctor has the knowledge necessary to prescribe a new SSRI that is less likely to produce the unwanted effects.

    • 2
      Take pills as prescribed.
      Take pills as prescribed.

      Take the new SSRI as prescribed, and give the new medication two to eight weeks to build up in your system and start working. If symptoms of anxiety persist during this time, your doctor may prescribe a short-acting anti-anxiety medication to take as needed until the new SSRI starts working.

    • 3
      See the doctor if you have adverse effects.
      See the doctor if you have adverse effects.

      Schedule another appointment if adverse side effects still occur after the switch. For recurring symptoms, your doctor may add an auxiliary medication. Take the additional medication in conjunction with the SSRI to alleviate specific side effects. Your doctor will determine an appropriate auxiliary medication that safely interacts with your new SSRI.

    • 4
      Monitor your medication.
      Monitor your medication.

      Monitor yourself for several months after switching SSRI's or adding an auxiliary medication. Report this information to your doctor to assist in determining if your new medication is working properly.

    • 5
      Schedule follow up appointments.
      Schedule follow up appointments.

      Schedule regular follow-up appointments with your doctor, who will monitor the progress and effectiveness of the transition before calling it a successful switch. Because of the individualized responses that SSRI's produce in patients, you may need to switch more than once before finding an appropriate SSRI or augmented treatment plan.

Tips & Warnings

  • Set follow-up appointments before leaving the doctor's office.
  • Be honest with your doctor.
  • Always report all other medications that you currently take to your doctor to reduce the risk of drug interaction problems.
  • Report any suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting someone else to your doctor immediately.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing before beginning an SSRI regimen.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol when taking any SSRI.
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References

  • Photo Credit woman in solutude and depression image by Allen Penton from Fotolia.com doctor t image by Andrey Kiselev from Fotolia.com pill box and pills image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com Doctor image by Monika 3 Steps Ahead from Fotolia.com pills image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com making an appointment image by Leticia Wilson from Fotolia.com

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